All of this is for you. It has always been for you - from graduating in the top 10% of my high school class to getting accepted into a wonderful liberal arts university in Boston to graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in History in May of 2019 from Tufts University, it has always been for you. For John Paul (my brother) and Grandpa, Mama, Grandma, Uncle Bobby, Aunt Dar, Uncle Eddie, Aunt Mary, Aunt Angie, Uncle Ron, Aunt Stacy, Uncle Ricky, Aunt Barbie, and the numerous cousins across the US, this was all for you. It always has been since the moment I understood the opportunities that higher education could give someone.
Since coming to Tufts, I have changed - my language is different, my thought process is different, and even my style is different. However, my purpose is the same: I want to do well in order to give back to each and every one of you in some sort of way. Without you, I would not be where I am today, and I am so grateful. From being picked on by my older cousins to being hugged when John Paul passed away, I have always looked to y’all for support and love. We butt heads and we’re loud, but this is us. There is still love in the air, and we will always be family.
I want to write this letter to you in order to give you a glimpse into what has been going on the past four years since I moved to Boston to go to Tufts because maybe you’ll understand just how important my graduation is to me.
My freshman year was very difficult for me. I had to navigate a whole new culture, city, and language. From learning about the different pronouns that people feel comfortable using to learning about all of the “-isms” (racism, classism, sexism, etc.) to trying to figure out how to use public transportation on my own. That very first semester at Tufts, I changed. It was difficult, but I learned so much that by the end of it all, I couldn’t wait to come home to tell y’all about it. Christmas was a holiday that I looked forward to sharing what I had learned with y’all. Sitting around Aunt Dar’s table, talking about everything that I had experienced and trying to grapple with the information that was given to me. However, it didn’t quite work out that way, and I came back to Tufts with the purpose of learning just how to actually talk about these experiences and issues. I asked Tufts professors, faculty, and even my peers for advice on how to bring the knowledge that I had learned here back home. It wasn’t easy, and I am still learning.
Fast forwarding to my junior year when I went to Greece for a semester and traveled all over Europe, all I wanted to do was show y’all what I was seeing. In order for me to get there, I had to win a scholarship on top of other financial aid help that I had asked for, and I did it because I knew that it would make y’all proud. Coming back after being in Europe for four months was also difficult as I had to re acclimate to the U.S. culture. It was beautiful there, and I can only wish that one day, I’ll be able to show y’all what I saw and experienced in real life. When I came home, I was the “world traveler” and knew that I had to carry the weight of knowing that I was carrying this blessing and burden. It’s a blessing because I was able to actually go abroad, but a burden because how was I supposed to share those experiences with y’all? I’m still working on creating a way for me to show y’all what I had experienced as well as the rest of the world. Instagram and Facebook aren’t exactly accurate representations.
Throughout the good times and the bad times at Tufts, I’ve always persevered because I had my family in mind. However, I lack at communicating with y’all regularly, and I truly apologize. When I graduate and walk across those stages (yes, there will be multiple!), I will do it with the love, grace, and gratefulness of knowing that y’all are there with me (in person or in spirit). I have changed personally because that’s what happens when moving across the country into a whole new culture of life, but my love and appreciation for y’all haven’t.
I thank each and every one of you for watching me grow into the woman I am today. I thank Tufts for giving me the confidence to grow into the person I was meant to be and for supporting me in whatever way I needed (emotional, physical, educational). Without this interconnected web of biological family members, chosen family members, and my Tufts family members, I don’t think I would have made it this far. I still have some time to go, but I know I’m already there. I only hope that my family in Mississippi will understand why I haven’t been able to visit home as much as I’d like or even communicate as properly as I should have from the beginning. Tufts is rough, but it’s made me tough. However, I wouldn’t have been able to make it this far without the toughness that was woven into me by my family since I was young. You’re my family, always and forever. I love you.
A daughter, niece, cousin, sister and granddaughter