I remember the day I received my confirmation in the mail that I was accepted into the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). I was not the first in my family to attend college, but as the eldest sibling, I would be the one to encourage my brother and sisters that it was possible for them as well. My grandmother, who was my primary caregiver, was a graduate of an Historical Black College (HBCU) called Bishop, located in Texas. She made sure we knew the importance of getting an education; so, for me, college was not an option. It was not a matter of if I would go to college, but rather where I would go.
I’ve heard some people say that they do not believe going to college after high school is even necessary to be successful in the world. When I’ve had these discussions, the people that believe this always give examples of people that did not graduate from college who are successful. While this may be true, those individuals are in the minority, and usually come from money and wealth or they invent something that brings them financial success. I believe that attending college provides more than just a pathway to obtaining a good job; it also provides an opportunity to get a well-rounded education, meet some fantastic people and gives young people time to mature and grow up.
Growing up, I was always told that I had an old soul. I believe this is true and it took years for me to catch up to myself. But when I think about my years at UCLA, I met people that I am still friends with to this day. When my daughter went away to attend Spelman in Atlanta, my friend and UCLA classmate, Deanna instantly became her “Atlanta family.” While I was at UCLA, I also became an intern in Washington, D.C. with Congressman Julian C. Dixon. I became exposed to a world in DC that I would have never known had I not had that opportunity as a college student. I could go on about the various doors that opened to me while at UCLA, but the bottom line is the opportunity to go to college changed my life in a positive way.
What about all the students that don’t get the opportunity to go to college? I sit on the Board of Directors for the UCLA Black Alumni Association (UBAA) and one of our goals is to not only encourage students to attend UCLA, but to also help them get in, stay in and graduate. As UCLA continues to celebrate their centennial, UBAA is celebrating 100 years of Black Bruin Excellence. We are doing this by keeping the life and legacy of Winston C. Doby alive. Winston Churchill Doby was one of UCLA’s vice chancellors. He was Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs for 20 years, making him the longest-serving Vice Chancellor in UCLA history, and then served as the Vice President of Student Affairs for the UC system.
While I attended UCLA, Winston C. Doby touched my life and I am grateful to be part of a group of alumni that want to keep his desires going and growing for future generations. On Saturday, March 14, UBAA will hold a dinner honoring nine distinguished individuals who are also committed to educating students. We will raise money to give scholarships to worthy students. A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Let’s encourage everyone to maximize any opportunity to expand their education — no matter where it may be.
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Visit www.WendyGladney.com and www.forgivingforliving.org to learn more. Wendy is an international coach, consultant, trainer, author and speaker.