I had been anticipating my return to Dear Old Grambling for a year before the reunion held May 23-25! I was looking forward to re-connecting with old friends and classmates … even seeing some old ‘flames.’
I had the privilege of driving to Louisiana from Virginia. It gave me the opportunity to ease toward GSU, slowly watching the dirt on the sides of the road go from brown to red, eagerly anticipating seeing everyone as I entered Mississippi, then traveling over the Mississippi River into Louisiana, passing by Pecanland Mall, and finally, rolling over that familiar hill onto the campus of Grambling State University.
At first, I must admit, I was saddened and upset to hear the GSU I knew and loved was getting such a drastic facelift, where my home away from home, Martha Adams, had been demolished, along with other ‘homes’ that held many memories. But upon seeing the changes on campus, I was actually proud. I was glad to see the upgrades and am anxious to see what was to come.
I was like a kid in a candystore shopping in the new bookstore (I spent way too much money!). And I wished I could have enjoyed one meal in the newly renovated ‘caf,’ or shall I say ‘Dining Hall,’ because McCall really got an upscale makeover! But the best part of the weekend, of course, was seeing lots of familiar faces, and putting some names behind many of them!
It was great to see Gramblinites just happy to see each other, whether you were best friends, roommates, hall-mates, classmates, or passing aquaintances. I confess, I thought I might end up having to tell stories about how folks ‘think they’re too good’ now and how lots of the females were stuck up. But I was pleasantly surprised by the total opposite.
Every female I talked to, whether we knew each other well or not, carried on a conversation with me as if we were thick as thieves. There was a sisterhood of Gramblinites connecting everywhere from parking lots and lobbies of hotels, to every event of Reunion Weekend.
The guys? Well, they never had a problem with being friendly. The bottom line: no one seemed to care who you were or what happened back in the day…in fact, many admitted they just plain forgot everything, including names! But thanks to name tags and the ‘Black and Gold’ bond we share, it was all good.
I remember one woman coming up to me and saying, ‘where do we know each other from?’ After going through where we were from, what we majored in, and the like, we concluded we lived in the same dorm, but never knew each other. So what did we do? We introduced ourselves and hugged and said “good to meet you…for real!”
Smiles and hugs were abound all weekend. In fact, on the morning I left, I was still seeing classmates I hadn’t seen all weekend! One thing I have observed from working at another HBCU and that I hope others take notice of: when looking at class reunions, those that attended school before enrollment rose to a certain level can say they actually knew all their classmates in some way, shape or form (classmates, by the way, meaning the people they entered school with and graduated with).
But today, and definitely when I attended Grambling, I can say I knew, embraced and hung around people who entered and exited at all different times. I knew few people I graduated with. Many people near and dear to me left before me…and I also left many people near and dear to me behind. Some never even finished at GSU.
But these people…those near and dear to me…the familiar faces I saw during my full time at GSU…the guys I remember being ‘on line’ and doing crazy things in front of the caf’ (when on line referred to pledging only)…the girls I shared nights on the halls with…the various people I attended classes with, took trips to Mexico with (for Spanish credit), and shared time with at the radio station, the Gramblinite, GSU-TV, and the East Coast Coalition.
These people are the people I want to see at my reunions! And it is only by having a reunion that spans different years (like ours, 1985-1990), and that leaves itself open to people who attended but may not have graduated, that it can be a true reunion for me! I can’t speak for everyone, but I can only surmise this is a shared sentiment. Long live reunions with those who attended GSU between 1985 and 1990!
Jennifer Williamson…entered GSU in the Spring of 1989…graduated December 1992. Hometown: Pittsfield, Mass….now living in the Richmond, Vir. area. She has enjoyed a career in radio, working at 4 commercial stations between Connecticut and Virginia, and even producing features, nationally, for ABC radio for some years. Currently, she ‘run’ the radio station at Virginia State University, serving as program director, training and supervising students. She’s also on the air at Radio One’s WKJS/WKJM (99.3 & 105.7 Kiss FM) in Richmond on weekends.