As a kid who grew up in Southeast San Diego, it was never a plan or even a dream of mine to go to college, let alone an HBCU.
It was expected of me to graduate high school and start working to support myself. After attending and graduating from a community college in my city, I made the decision to move across country and pursue my bachelor’s degree at Grambling State University. I had no prior knowledge of the school, my family and friends knew nothing about the school, so I was really walking into this new chapter of my life, blind. I drove from San Diego to Grambling, a 22 hour trip, with my mom, who also never attended college and moved in August 2018.
That was the first time I ever left San Diego and first time I ever lived without my mom.
My first semester was the hardest, trying to balance out school and personal time, trying to figure out where I fit in, and who I could trust. I developed a severe case of anxiety due to being homesick and at one point thought about dropping out and just going back home. If it were not for my support system, I would not have made it to say I will be graduating from The Grambling State University.
I finished my degree in three years and can confidently say, I am prepared to step into the next chapter in my life. I have a clear vision who I am striving to be and cannot thank this university enough for breaking me down to build me back up. Never in a million years would I have thought I would be a freelance photographer, a model, a writer, an entrepreneur and first-generation college graduate.
I just want to say thank you to everyone who helped shape me into the woman I am today.
To my mom, thank you for never letting me go without and for always being one phone call away. Mateo, thank you for always checking on me and reminding me of who I am. Dad, you never let me quit, never let me fold, I thank you. To both my grandmas, your prayers and unconditional love and support are what held me together, thank you. To my best friend Sereena, you started this journey with me, and I cannot thank you enough for always being there even though you were thousands of miles away. To my cousins, you guys always gave me that motivation I needed to not come home without this degree, I love yall. To my aunts and uncles, thank you for supporting me and reminding me that I make you all proud, your reminders always hit different. Thank you to all my friends back at home, they have not seen me in years but have always prayed and rooted for me from a distance, so I thank you. To my friends that I made here, JQ, Quincy, JP, Hailey, I love yall and thank you for all the memories, you guys forever have a home on the west coast.
Lastly, I want to say thank you Grambling. You truly live up to your motto “Where Everybody is Somebody.” You taught me more about myself than you did curriculum in these 3 years. I gained the confidence I needed to make this world mine and I intend too. God made no mistake bringing me here and allowing me to experience all that I did, so I am thankful to have reached this milestone and eager to contribute to those coming after me.
– Siera Matthews plans to move back to San Diego after graduation. She is currently interviewing for jobs to put her Grambling State University degree to use after graduation.