Before Florida A&M University accepted me in 2006, I’d heard rumors and stories about FAMU — that it was nothing but a party school, that it did not offer a serious education and that the bar for success was set pretty low.
When I enrolled, I planned on tolerating the school for two years, getting my associate’s degree and transferring to the more well-regarded Florida State University.
Over the next four years, however, my perspective was turned completely on its head, and I couldn’t be happier with my choice to remain a Rattler.
Now as the school is stuck in a difficult moment, I can’t help but think back to the tough stories I once heard about the college from those who did not really know it — and about how wrong they were.
Yes, students party and some of the friends I met freshman year didn’t make it to graduation, but those who base reputations on rumors rarely think of the thousands of other students each year, and the hundreds of thousands throughout the years, who have become successful adults because of their education and experiences at FAMU.
Bits of negativity sometimes create an aura that envelops an institution, and it simply isn’t fair.
In no way am I ignoring reckless acts of some members of our beloved Marching 100 band, but they made up only a small fraction of our student body, faculty, staff and other organizations who are passionate and loyal Rattlers. Their acts, which are undeniably unfortunate, do not reflect the ideals of the university as a whole. We are so much more than that ugly fragment.
Our careers and dreams span the spectrum of any industry. We are driven and motivated.
Our faculty brings to the table real-world experience and knowledge that provide a first-rate education.
I received my bachelor’s degree from the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication, and we were definitely a smaller family in the grand scheme of the school. My professors were skilled and confident in their areas of expertise, and they left my classmates and me no choice but to perform.
Whether running around finding sources for student media projects or simply trying to turn in class assignments, we were given responsibility and saddled with expectations. Our professors simulated the reality of life after graduation and made sure we prepared to succeed in any field we pursue. Their tough love pushed us to stand out against the grain — it creates leaders.
Nothing compares to attending a Historically Black College and University. As an 18-year-old who found herself 500 miles from home, I was forced to mature and grow as an individual. My roommates and classmates became my sisters, brothers and cousins. My advisers and professors became parental figures. And FAMU became my home.
When I veered off course, they were the support that steered me back in the right direction. Without doubt, FAMU helped my development and growth as a young woman.
Read what you may by the external critics, but no one is capable of truly understanding unless they have personally experienced FAMU.
We have our bad days, but trust that the good ones far outweigh the bad. We are strong and resilient. We rise above stereotypes and are taught to be the best we can be. We walk on the highest of seven hills with our shoulders back and our heads held high, because we are deeply proud to be a part of this black collegiate world. From the football games and events to official university functions and Greek life, our Orange and Green shine boldly and brightly. Our attachment to and appreciation for our school lies deep beneath the surface and reaches well into the roots of our origin. FAMU today, FAMU tomorrow and FAMU forever.
Skyy Sandifer, a Miami native, is a 2010 graduate of Florida A&M University.