GSU is shortchanging its grads by not establishing alumni connection

Dear Editor:This is in regards to the article titled “Grambling State Senior accepted to Harvard” in the April 22, 2010, edition of The Gramblinite. I would like to commend Ms. Henry on her acceptance to Harvard University. Being accepted to an Ivy League university from an HBCU is not only a major accomplishment but also a daunting task.
I am a graduate student in the Department of Development Sociology at Cornell University, also an Ivy League university. I am also a 2008 graduate of Grambling State University with a bachelor of arts degree in sociology.
So, I am very much aware of the strenuous process that is involved in the transition from a HBCU to an Ivy League institution. My fellow sociology classmates and I were among a select number of students in the world and even a smaller number of students at this university who were accepted to first-tier research institutions as well as recipients of numerous fellowships.
To my dismay, our accomplishments were never documented in The Gramblinite, the College of Arts and Science Newsletter, or any publication produced by the university.
I am elated by the appraisal of Ms. Henry’s accomplishments in the article, but I am disgruntled with my alumni and the administration for showing blatant favoritism among departments and students.
Though my criticisms reflect my own personal opinion, I am in no way the first to voice them and will likely not be the last. As a graduate student, I quickly learned that success is not only embodied in intellectual capacities but also in the ability to have a great network of associates.
I was blown away by the number of students at Cornell who had connections to individuals within academia before they even enrolled in graduate school.
Before my arrival at Cornell, I had never spoken with Winnie F. Taylor, the first African American woman to be tenured at Cornell Law school and a 1972 graduate of GSU; nor had I ever spoken with James Herbert Williams, the associate dean for Academic Affairs in the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis and a GSU graduate with a degree in sociology.
Nor had I spoken with Toni Muhamad, a professor of sociology at University of Louisiana at Lafayette and a GSU 1991 graduate with a degree in sociology; nor had I ever spoken with Thomas Durant, a professor emeritus of sociology at LSU and a 1963 graduate of GSU.
But with a great amount of irony, my biggest supporter at Cornell outside of my thesis adviser is Ralph Christy, the J. Thomas Clark professor of Entrepreneurship & Personal Fiance and a 1975 graduate of Southern University.
We as an institution cannot continuously send students into the world with the odds already stacked against them and not provide them with a sense of pride in a Grambling education and with a network of individuals who have succeeded against all odds.
As I meet individuals from all over the world, I have always been proud to proclaim that I am graduate of Grambling State University.
When they ask me why I am I so proud, I begin to ponder over the answer to the question. Should I state that I am proud of my institution because it continuously seeks to unevenly recognize the accomplishments of all its students and graduates?
Should I say that I am proud of GSU because it sends its students into the real world with a losing hand because it fails to establish a network among its graduates? Or should I say I am proud of an institution that is only known for entertaining the world as if it was a puppet in a world minstrel show?
I do not write this out of spite but out of hope for my niece and the ones who will come after me.
For as the old Negro spiritual goes, “If I can help someone along the way, then my living will not be in vain.” No, this change won’t be easy but a journey of a million miles starts with one step.

Ashon Bradford
Class of 2008