Staffer recalls her first story

Where do I begin? For the past five years Grambling State University has been more than just my home away from home, it has been my comfort zone. Never in a million years did I expect I would be here, but now that I am, I could not have imagined myself anywhere else. GSU has afforded me so many opportunities that it would take forever to list them all.

Being here has also allowed me to meet some of the people whom I would later call my true friends, a chance encounter that doesn’t happen often. My time here has been truly invaluable and every moment spent here I will cherish for a lifetime.

I remember it like it was yesterday traveling to Grambling and anticipating moving onto campus, bursts of excitement and bittersweet thoughts swelled up inside of me.

I was excited because I was about to take flight on a new journey. On the other hand sad, because I was leaving my mother behind. She has been that one constant driving force in my life as child, and it has never stopped since then. To my mother, who is my best friend, role model, and support system, I thank you for always being there for me in my time of my need. There has never been a time when I couldn’t call on you to give me words of encouragement, brighten many a sad day or just listen to me when no one else would lend an ear. You mean the world to me and I hope one day I’m able to place the world at your feet, as you have done for me. I love you.

To my grandmother, although you are gone, you are not forgotten. It’s been a long, tedious journey without you here. I found strength in knowing that you look down on me from the heavenly skies and walk with me every day.

I have made it through some of the worst days and scariest nights with your prayers from up above raining down on me. Jamie Foxx’s song “I wish you were here” reverberates through my head as it saddens me that on the day of one of my biggest accomplishments you won’t be there to rejoice with me as I celebrate this major milestone. I love you, grandma, and until we meet again, see you later.

Family is something to be cherished and can’t be replaced and I am forever grateful for mine. Ever since I have been at GSU they have motivated me to always to reach for the stars with constant encouragement. Thank you.

My first semester at GSU, I thought I was on top of the world. After a while, circumstances sent my natural high really, really low. I learned a lot of tough lessons. I realized everyone in my circle did not have my best interest at heart. Being four hours away from home, it was inevitable to gravitate toward others and hope to make friends. But, when I asked God to protect me from my enemies I started losing “friends” and he’s kept on looking out for me.

After a rough year as a freshman, I came back sophomore year ready to find the person within. I began to get active within my academic department, Mass Communication. There I would find other students who shared my passion, professors who would take me under their wing, a secretary who stayed on me because she saw my potential, and a department head who wanted the best for his students.

I’ve said this time and time again: Mass Communication is the best department on campus. It isn’t just a department, it’s a family, a close-knit family. The professors in this department lay a strong foundation for students to build and grow from.

They teach us the fundamentals of our studies, prepare us for the world, and help us to better ourselves in and out of the classroom. I could not have asked for a better set of professors (Dr. Frazier, Dr. Murray, Dr. Tunuguntla, Dr. Lalehparvaran, Ms. Peters, Dr. Ford-Dunn and Mrs. Lee) for they are the cream of the crop, the icing on the cake – and we all know how much I love cake. I’m going to miss each and every one last one of the professors for they brought the best out of me as a student and a journalist.

I would like to thank all of my other professors for you challenged me to think outside the box and to continue to push the envelope to search for answers and a better understanding of the information you taught me.

And just when I had given up on friends and making relationships, God surrounded me with people who not only could I relate to, but would always have my back. You couldn’t see me without seeing her, my left hand man, Antionette Johnson. We were so inseparable; we became synonymous with characters like Ren and Stimpy or Pinky and the Brain, because we spent so much time together. We came to GSU the same year and met each other within our first year and it’s been history ever since. Our relationship has withstood so much that it ultimately made our friendship stronger and brought us closer to one another. She was my rock to lean on, my friend when no one was to be found and my sister. I leave Grambling knowing our friendship has transcended so many boundaries and we have grown together.

True friends are hard to find, difficult to leave and impossible to forget. I cannot even begin to name them for fear of leaving one out, but YOU know who you are. To my REAL friends, my other support system, you all are people I can truly say I will miss after I walk across that stage.

I haven’t always been the easiest person to get along with or be around, but for the ones who stuck around and weathered my attitude and only-child syndrome, I thank you for not leaving my side. You all made me laugh, we cried together and shared some of our innermost thoughts with one another. Nights in Bowen Hall, Tiger Village and apartments all throughout Ruston are memories that I cannot and will not forget. I love you from the bottom of my heart, for you made the days at GSU go by a little easier and a lot sweeter.

Not realizing the magnitude of what I was getting myself into, I fell in love with red, black and white – Omega Tau Pi Sorority, Inc. I became a part of sisterhood who showed me things about myself that I had never even noticed. OTP taught me the true meaning of sisterhood and brought women of all backgrounds into my life. We shared a bond that no one could break or see. It was the best decision I could’ve made and I have never looked back.

Some of my closest friends became members of this fine organization, which also brought us closer. To my D.I.V.A.S, I love you, and to my Tail, no words can ever describe what you mean to me. With love in my heart and tears in my eyes, I can’t say how much you have made a difference in my life. Where would I be without you? All I can say is thank you, thank you, and thank you. To the sisters I leave behind, don’t forget what our sorority stands for and the power that lies within our sisterhood. You are today’s leaders, so take advantage of today while planning for tomorrow.

It seems like it was just like yesterday when I was asking De’Eric Henry, Gramblinite editor-in-chief, about pointers for my first story and now I am writing my last. It is truly bittersweet as I sit at the computer typing away knowing my time in the newsroom is in its eleventh hour.

I never imagined that it would be this hard to let go of a newsroom, an incredible staff and two of the most kind, endearing and loving women. I have spent so much time in this one place, you wouldn’t believe. I tell people all the time, if the newsroom had a couch and refrigerator, I’d never leave. It got to a point where if I wasn’t in class, I was in The Gramblinite. The only time I was in my dorm room was at night, and that was only after spending long nights working away at the paper. Working on the paper, I have had the chance to meet and establish some of the greatest relationships with people who I never would’ve come into contact with, had it not been for The Gramblinite.

The paper has been my salvation and been a most needed outlet to express my views, concerns and interests. I fell in love with a group of people that brought so much diversity, controversy, and laughter into a room. Our bond gave life to a paper that produced quality content for our readership. I’d like to call us the “dream team” because that’s exactly what we are. We are journalists and photographers with insatiable curiosities that always drove us to be the best and provide the best to our readers.

Whether the campus of Grambling State University realizes it or not, we didn’t write because we got paid to; we wrote because this is what we live for. Every word was carefully thought out, every sentence composed with delicacy, and every paragraph formed with you in mind. It is because of you that we are here days on end cultivating stories to intrigue, stimulate and, most importantly, inform.

Ms. Peters (dad) and Ms. Dunn (mom), there’s so much I can say about you two, but I’d run out of space and time. You two have stayed on me, pushed me to the outer limits and been there for me constantly. I appreciate every intimate conversation we’ve had, every lick and side eye (Ms. Dunn) , all the pep talks, inspirational words and advice you gave me. Ms. Peters (in my whining voice), I am going to miss seeing your little smiling face every morning before my class. I can’t remember a time when I needed you and you weren’t there.

You believed in me, when others closed the door in my face. You pushed me to do more than what was just required of me, and that has helped me in trying to become a better journalist. The journalist that I have grown to be, would be non-existent if it weren’t for you.

Ms. Dunn, every since I have stepped foot in The Gramblinite, you have kept me in line at all times. No one could put anything past you and you forever kept us on our toes. You were truly a mother figure to us all. You made sure we always had everything we needed and even things we didn’t. I have never known someone who knew so many people and the answers to so many questions, but you did.
Ms. Peters and Ms. Dunn, I am going to miss you guys so very much that it breaks my heart for me to leave, but I can’t stay. I love you two ladies mucho grande!

Last but certainly not least, I give all praises and honor to God for without him none of this would be possible. God has walked with me, talked to me and held me hand from the moment I’ve been here. My strong faith has covered me thus far and it will continue as such. I thank God for being there for me and never leaving me alone, because I “never would have made it” without him, by no means.

I never really understood what it meant to say, “I bleed black and gold,” but I am a living testament of that statement now. Grambling State University, the place “Where Everybody is Somebody,” has molded me into the woman I am today and that is something I am indebted to my alma mater forever for.

Through all my struggles, triumphs, tears, smiles and moments of uncertainty, Grambling has taught me how to live through it all. People have always told me if you can make it at Grambling, you can make it anywhere. I have finally made it and I am so proud. To be able to say I, Shakari Sharday Briggs, matriculated from Grambling State University means more than just the world to me; it’s profound.