In August 2012, I first set foot in Washington Square, not realizing it that it was part of New York University’s campus. During this time, I was getting ready to start my senior year of high school, and I did not know where I wanted to go to college yet. I had already visited several other schools across the nation. Often times, college presentations consist of some routine where an admissions officer shares scores needed to apply, student population demographics, what to expect about academics, and class sizes, etc. As I sat down in the Kimmel Center at NYU, prepared for another speech about the same criteria, I was amazed at what they presented. Instead of listening to another admissions officer’s prepared speech, we viewed testimonials presented by NYU students, about life and learning in NYC and at NYU. It was during that video that I knew NYU in NYC was where I wanted to be after high school.
New York University is not like other universities. NYU’s famous motto of being “in and of the city” integrates the university’s academics with the resources of The City: the combination of living and learning in New York City sets NYU apart from other universities. In the little time that I have been here, I have fully immersed myself into being “in and of the city.” Apart from the schoolwork, I have been to the U.S. Open for tennis, met Dylan Sprouse (actor), saw the Dr. Oz Show live, watched the sunrise from the Brooklyn Bridge, toured the Metropolitan Museum of Art, played soccer on rooftops, and pledged for the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.
When I first moved into my dorm room, it was so surreal to think that I would be living in New York City for the next four years of my life. Who would have thought that a teenage kid like me from a rural North Carolina town of 10,000 people would ever live in New York City? Besides being “of the city,” I am exposed to the global population that makes up NYU’s student body. During orientation week, I met international students from Kenya, Portugal, Australia, Honduras, and Hong Kong, in addition to American learners from Manhattan, New York; Palo Alto, California; Houston, Texas; the Virgin Islands; and Long Valley, New Jersey. I know that living in New York City has changed my life.
Although NYU has over 5,000 starting freshman this year, I am enrolled in the Liberal Studies Program, with fewer than 20 students in each of my classes. In this program, courses in Cultural and Social Foundations have broadened my understanding of ancient civilizations and present day societies. In Life Science, I recently completed a collaborative project to address concerns of HIV and AIDS and whether or not it’s a rights issue; we applied the concepts of biology to real life and environmental issues. With intimate class settings and close relationships with professors and fellow students, I am able to better appreciate the understandings within academics.
New York University is a very large and diverse school that is the complete opposite to that of the close-knit community in Clinton. I have had to adapt and keep an open mind throughout my journey here, but not a moment has gone by that I have not appreciated where I come from. The Simple Gifts Scholarship is designed to help Sampson county students pursue potential educational opportunities outside of North Carolina. As a recipient of the Simple Gifts Scholarship, the cost of private education has been offset which thereby begins to alleviate the future expenses that my parents will face in paying tuition for my three younger sisters.
In addition to the generosity of this local scholarship, I am very fortunate to have friends in my hometown of Clinton who continue to support my academic and life dreams. As a younger learner in Clinton, I developed leadership skills through coaching, instructing, officiating, and volunteering. As a young man living in New York City, I will continue to build on past experiences and appreciate the continued support from my community. It is due to the Simple Gifts Scholarship, my community, and family that I am able to live my dream and go to the school that I have grown to love.