Where do I begin? Although I knew the day would come in which I would have to finally bid my farewell to my alma mater, my dear ole’ Grambling, reality is not going to set in for me until my name, Candice Sherrie Dixson, is beginning called. It’s been a long, event-filled and interesting (to say the least) journey, but I’m more than proud to say: it’s over, to a certain degree.
I began my time here at Grambling State University years ago, that when I was a freshman the course that is now called First Year Experience was called Freshman Seminar (I won’t bore you with exactly how long it’s been). I was the epitome of a freshman you did not want to pan after. I barely went to class, I hung out on the ‘Yard’ and went to all of the parties. I didn’t care about my education. I figured I had much time ahead of me so why not enjoy my youth while I still could.
I paid for my mistakes, tremendously. I flunked out of school (which on paper is called being on SAP- Student Academic Probation) for more than a semester. During the times I wasn’t registered in school I could still be seen on campus, at events, house parties (as we now call them ‘kickbacks’) as if I were still a Gramblinite. So I decided to send an appeal letter to the university- I gave them a sob story about how much I wanted to be readmitted to the university and I would this time be dutiful to my studies. After being readmitted I not only went to class but I sat in the front of class, asked questions, turned in extra credit- the whole nine.
Back in 2008 (yes I’ve been here that long, actually longer) I decided to stick my head in the front door of The Gramblinite and I was glad I did.
I studied the professionalism skills of those who have left milestones such as Darryl D. Smith, DeEric Henry, Justin LaGrande, Dasha Flournoy, Christopher Harmon, Juston Jackson, Imani Jackson, Justin Madden, Qiyas Smith and Tierra Smith. After attending several meetings, I decided to begin writing and I fell it love with it. I then knew I wanted to major in mass communication.
I started to attend a few parties occasionally and before I knew it, my old ways had started to resurface. I still hadn’t learned my lesson, yet. It wasn’t until the passing of my father that I realized “Candice, you might want to get it together, and fast”.
That was in 2012. Reality had set in that life, being a precious gift from God, can be taken from you at any minute. I then told myself that because I started something so long ago, I would make it my duty to finish, no matter how long it would take me. As Homecoming and TigerFest activities would come around, I would run into people that I began school with and I would here the “you’re still here?” “when are you going to graduate?” questions and a few shady comments were rendered as well. I didn’t let it bother me, but I allowed it to motivate me to be serious about finishing.
But I wasn’t still wasn’t ready. I wasn’t in a suitable position, financially, so I then decided that I would volunteer to deploy overseas with the military for a year, return to Grambling, and finish strong. I left the United States with an attitude that nothing would get in my way of succeeding and I returned with that same attitude, but with more force behind it.
These last two years at GSU have been a roller coaster for me, some good times as well as some bad times.
One time in particular I remember- I not only thought I wouldn’t graduate, but I also thought I wouldn’t live much longer. I began to become very sick and was hospitalized for a long period of time- I had an IV in my arm and was administered with a narcotic every four hours. I lost a great amount of weight, wasn’t able to eat anything, and I couldn’t stand on my feet longer than ten minutes. The doctors thought I had cancer. After having a series of tests run on me, it was revealed to me that I did not have cancer but in fact sarcoidosis (a collection of inflammatory cells).
After being released from the hospital, I spent two weeks recovering, but I still wasn’t back to my normal self. I had trouble eating small portions of food and I couldn’t drive my car. One night, I was unable to sleep and broke down in tears because I didn’t understand what was going on with me; I felt as if I were being punished. I prayed, and I listened. Going through a moment of physical adversity was never meant to break me as an individual, but for me to see by God the person he wanted me to me, and just shows how strong I really am.
Every now and then I sometimes laugh at some of the things that have happened to me in life. I never share my story with people for sympathy, but as a tool to motivate others and to show them that everyone has a struggle – it can either break you or it can make you.
It’s time for me to bring this to an end before my tears take over this keyboard and a work order has to be placed in to fix it. There are three people I would like to thank for always believing in me and at times seeing more in me than I saw in myself: Professor Will Sutton. Undeniably, the most attentive person I have ever known. Mr. Sutton, thank you for always handing me my work back to me and telling me “see the edits,” because it showed me to pay more attention to detail and to take myself more serious as an individual. I won’t let you down.
Ms. Wanda Peters, thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a part of such a great staff. You’ve humbled me more than once and I will forever be grateful for that. And finally Ms. Joice Dunn, I can’t say goodbye to you because it doesn’t feel right and it never will. There’s an amount of unaccounted for hours that you have helped me as well as others in The Gramblinite that not even Grambling will be able to match with a paycheck. You’ve watched me laugh, cry, and even curse a few times (while scolding me saying, “all right now, little girl”). I will forever be indebted to you.
To the current staff of The Gramblinite, I know it seemed like I was always in a drill sergeant mode when it came time to meeting deadlines and turning in work, but it was only because I want you all to own up to the potential that I know you have in yourselves. Brandon, you’re like a little brother to me. I gave you the hardest time and for good reason. You have the capacity to be the next biggest sportswriter or perhaps Steven A. Smith. I just want you to dedicate yourself twice as much to your work as you do now.
To the next graduating class, current students and future Gramblinites; never let someone tell you what you can’t do. The only person that can stop you from doing something is you. This isn’t goodbye. This is an “I’ll see you later.”
Candice Dixson is a senior mass communication major from San Diego, California.