“What in the world have I gotten myself into?”
These nine words eptomized my first visit at Grambling State University.
“Why did I choose to come to college in a town where there are only two street lights?” I kept asking myself. “What other fast food restaurants do they have here besides Church’s and Subway?”
Who would have known that six years (yes, 6) after I first stepped foot on the 375-acre campus in the middle of nowhere, I would be saying farewell.
When I came to Grambling, I admit, I came for all of the wrong reasons. Freshman year, classes were optional while females were mandatory. “Yard-loitering” was necessary and my attendance at every social event on/around campus was imperative. I had no sense of direction or where I wanted to go with my life because I didn’t even think I was going to make it here. However, The Lord blesses us in mysterious ways and my blessing came in the form of a pregnancy.
On Thanksgiving night of 2007, my son was conceived. On August 7th, 2008, David L. Lankster, Jr., was born. Any parent can tell you their life changes drastically the moment their child is born. Because of the unprovoked absence of my father, I was determined to be the dad first and friend second to my child. Due to an unfortunate series of events, I became a single father in June of 2010.
I didn’t know how I was going to take care of a child, (After all, I did still reside in the dorms). I didn’t know how I was going to provide, being that I was a college student on the fast-track to graduating. I just knew it had to get done.
The decision to take on parental responsibilities at such a young age did not come without flak. Numerous friends, family members and even my mother didn’t agree with my decision to raise my son. The lack of a concrete support system made my faith in God grow tremendously. The Lord strategically placed people in my life to assist me. So, Trent & Devin Brown, Keondra Moore, Mercedez Sutphen, Dejanae Adams, Jasmine Atkins, Jonathan Irvin and whoever else who assisted me along this the tedious journey called fatherhood: Thank you.
To My Gramblinite Staff:
Some of my most joyous moments came in the presence of you guys. Whether it was covering the Bayou Classic together or going through the hassle of gathering press passes before a game; you definitely left a lasting impression on me. Kevin Keise, you pushed me to not only be the best journalist I can be, but also be the best man possible. Whether it was battling for positions in the newsroom or battling against each other in endless one-on-one basketball games in the gym at 10:00 a.m., you got me there. I thank you. Kimberly Monroe – We went through hell and high water together. We had each others back when nobody else did. Since what’s understood doesn’t need to be explained, I thank you. Lacey Mayo – You kept a smile on my face. You (and the random spurts of New Orleans bounce music in the newsroom) gave me life on days I was lifeless. I appreciate you.
My mother figure while at Grambling was Mrs. Joice Dunn. You made sure I was fed when me (nor Little Dave) could afford to feed ourselves. You provided pens/pencils immediately before classes. You checked with my teachers through the semester to make sure I was on the right path. She even gave me rides to and from campus after my terrible car accident. I love and appreciate you Ms. D!
To The Washington Redskins:
When people heard I was employed by the Washington Redskins, the usual reaction is, “You were living the life.” Well, if working seven days a week for nine weeks straight, get four days off, then work another seven weeks straight – WITH NO PAY – was the life, I was surely living it. That, coupled with the fact that I had to find a place to stay in the Northern Virginia area and provide myself breakfast, lunch and dinner made this “life” a questionable one worth living. With that being said, I’m so thankful to every guy who took me in as a younger brother (or slightly older brother in RGIII’s case). To Santana Moss, Cedric Griffin, Richard Crawford, Pierre GarÃ§on, Darrel Young and DeAngelo Hall, I thank you. Brandon Meriweather: You and I shared a bond like no other. You invited me into your house and made me feel apart of your family. Those nights you made sure I had a good time will never be forgotten. To Coach Doug Williams, GM Bruce Allen, Tony Wyllie, Daniel Sampson, Richard Flowers and Coaches Mike & Kyle Shanahan, Raheem Morris, Ike Hillard, Danny Smith, I thank you.
To Ohio State University:
Thank you Dr. Judson Jefferies, Kenneth Brooks and the rest of the African-American and African Studies department for the exceptional hospitality shown to Kim & I on our visit. The service your staff exuded will always be remembered as long as I live.
At first, I thought, “It is a shame that somewhat random, yet POWERFUL men whom live a time zone away came to rescue me from my OWN PEOPLE.” Then I realized: It isn’t a shame: It is a BLESSING! Thank you.
Whenever you get old enough to read this, understand you are the sole reason I am finished. I love you fatboy. I look forward to being present at all your extracurricular activies. Remember: “The race is not given to the fast nor the swift, but he who endures the longest.” – Ecclesiastes 9:11