I can still remember that hot August day, more than a decade ago, when cars displaying license plates from all over the country were lined up along 4th Street NW in front of the Tubman Quadrangle. Lots of orange bins were aligned, being stuffed with as much as possible to avoid multiple trips between over-packed car trunks and the tight elevator ride to get to your assigned dorm room.
I remember vividly, moving into the second floor of Wheatley Hall aka “Heatley Hall,” the first thing that went through my mind was…no air conditioning? Yes, that was a rough day.
Several times, I went back and forth in my mind about the decision that I had just made. There I was. No air. No meal plan activated. It was my first time away from home on my own, and I was learning rather quickly that D.C. natives were unlikely to be characterized as friendly.
I just knew Howard University was the place I wanted to be. But I was born and raised in the Midwest in Columbus, Ohio, where we talk to pretty much anybody even if it’s a simple “hello” or “how’s it going?” In D.C. dare I said “good morning.” Locking eyes with passersby, I naturally assumed that meant we were to speak. Georgia Avenue and trips on the Green Line, however, quickly taught me that that was not the case.
I eventually adjusted to my new environment and happily created lasting and meaningful friendships.
I always joke with my friends about how I really wish I could relive my college years. I probably would have had even more fun if I knew life after college would be the way it is now. I do often wonder sometimes, what if I didn’t major in journalism and then missed the chance to meet such an awesome staff of Hilltoppers who became my “Subset” homies? What if I didn’t decide to take a summer session in 2005 to get ahead on some credit hours and then never had a chance to have by far one of the most fun summers of my life and create such great friendships with my “Muskrat” crew? Lastly, what if I didn’t decide to express interest in joining a Greek organization and then never had an opportunity to meet wonderful, hilarious, kind-hearted and down-to-earth people through my extended family, my sorors of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and my brothers of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. There were also a lot of great friends I made along the way that I have been blessed to create a bond with.
When being tasked with making these decisions on your own at such a pivotal point in your life, you may wonder what would be different if you took an alternate route. What might have changed? I, however, do not regret any of my choices.
One of my top two moments outside of all the friendships I made, was being a part of history. Being on that Hilltop staff that led its student newspaper to become the first black daily newspaper in the nation in 2005 was a huge moment for me and having a hand in such a historical event will always be an outstanding memory. Secondly, and the icing on the cake, one word – Oprah! Yes, having her deliver the 2007 Commencement Speech was phenomenal and something that I will always remember. *insert “Howard hand” along with a “yaaaasssss.”*
There are so many memories that I am able to share to this day with my fellow Bison. From validation stickers, to “Club UGL”, the struggle up the 6th Street hill, “A” Building frustrations, First Friday’s, epic homecomings, Quick’s notorious omelets in the café, Soul Food Thursday’s in the restaurant, still knowing your 8-digit student ID number, knowing to distinguish the difference between a senior and a graduating senior, our collective disdain towards Courtland Milloy, the list goes on and on.
Needless to say, Howard University has such a historical and well-respected presence among HBCUs and I’m proud to be a part of that legacy in my own right. There may be some other decisions in my life that I regret, but making that final decision to attend Howard University is not one of them. I can proudly hold my head high as an alum and continue to say, “Oh Howard, we’ll sing of thee.”
Courtney Eiland was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio before moving to the District of Columbia in August of 2003. A 2007 alumna of Howard University, she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Print Journalism with a minor in Sports Administration. Courtney pursued graduate studies at Georgetown University, where she obtained a Masters of Professional Studies in Sports Industry Management. Courtney continues to reside in D.C., working in sports and entertainment while continuing her passion for writing. To check out Courtney’s blog A Word or 2 For You, click here.