Kadeem Hardison (YouTube); Jasmine Guy (YouTube); Darryl M. Bell (YouTube)

(The Root) — It's been 20 years since we graduated from Hillman College on A Different World, which went off the air in the summer of 1993. The show, which began as a spinoff of The Cosby Show, was supposed to follow the exploits of Denise Huxtable (Lisa Bonet). But when Bonet dropped out after the first season, the show turned its focus to nerdy Dwayne Wayne (Kadeem Hardison) and prissy Southern belle Whitley Gilbert (Jasmine Guy) and went on to last for six seasons.

We loved watching the ever-changing relationship between Dwayne and Whitley, hanging out with the gang at The Pit and getting sound advice from Mr. Gaines (Lou Myers) and Col. Taylor (Glynn Turman). Of course, college is a great place to get valuable life lessons. Take a look at some of our favorites from our beloved — albeit fictional — HBCU.

1. A summer apart can do wonders for a man's intrigue.

Screenshots of A Different World (YouTube)

Subtract the flip-up sunglasses. Add a fancy suit. Whitley's attraction level for Dwayne seemed to rise a bit higher in the show's third season. When they ran into each other on the plane after summer vacation, Whitley finally started to give Dwayne a second look.

2. Diahann Carroll and Patti Labelle make perfect on-screen mothers.

Diahann Carroll (Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images); Patti LaBelle (Ian Dickson/RedFerns/Getty Images)


You probably don't want to try her famous prune cobbler, but Mrs. Wayne (LaBelle) loved her "Chipmunk" (Dwayne) — and eventually came around to love Whitley, too. As for Ms. Gilbert? She took a while to come around in accepting Dwayne, as well. Her classic line in the wedding episode? "Die. Just die!"

3. Stepping is serious business on HBCU campuses.

Screenshot of A Different World (YouTube)

There is a dorm stepping competition in the second season where Whitley goes all Debbie Allen in Fame when trying to help Freddie (Cree Summer) learn how to step. Mara Brock Akil (creator of Girlfriends and The Game) has a cameo as one of the steppers. And in this clip, poetry and stepping merge as a new art form.

4. Easiest way to throw shade at your boo's new girlfriend? Mess up her name — multiple times.

Screenshot of A Different World (YouTube)

Whitley is never interested in learning Dwayne's girlfriend's name (Kinu). She calls her every K name in the book, including Kimono and Kekoko. (Black Twitter took note when referencing Chris Brown's on-again, off-again boo, Karrueche Tran.)

5. You should never let others make you ashamed of your history.

Kim Reese as Mammy (ourlegaci.com)

In "Mammy Dearest," Kim Reese (Charnele Brown) is not feeling her role as Mammy in Hillman's dorm-dedication ceremony. While talking to Mr. Gaines, she relives the horror of once being called Aunt Jemima even though she actually had been dressed up as a Nubian princess for a Halloween-costume contest in grade school. Mr. Gaines convinces her that she's beautiful and shouldn't be ashamed of African-American history. She emerges victorious with a powerful reading of Nikki Giovanni's "Ego Tripping."

6. We gained a mantra for life: 'Relax, relate, release.'

Screenshot of A Different World (YouTube)

Say this 10 times a day with a woosah? Zen.

7. Sometimes you just have to act like a mannequin in the middle of a riot.

Screenshot of A Different World (YouTube)

The Waynes are on their honeymoon in Los Angeles as the Rodney King verdict is given. While out shopping, Whitley gets caught in the riots and has to pose like a mannequin to keep out of all the ruckus.

8. Real love can be found in the making of a great sitcom.

Reggie Rock and Gina Prince Bythewood (Brian To/FilmMagic/Getty Images)

Filmmakers Gina Prince (Secret Life of Bees, Love & Basketball) and Reggie Rock Bythewood (Notorious, New York Undercover) met on the set of A Different World while working as writers from 1992 to 1993. They married in 1998.

9. It's hard to be a collegiate thug.

Screenshot of A Different World (YouTube)

After Terrell and Charmaine are harassed by locals, Terrell decides that he needs extra protection while walking around campus. He is nearly expelled when it is discovered that he is carrying a gun.

10. Your hometown friends won't always vibe with your college friends.

Screenshot of A Different World (YouTube)

The Tupac episode! Lena's (Jada Pinkett Smith) ex-boyfriend from Baltimore, Piccolo (Tupac), visits the campus and doesn't like how Lena has changed. (We can't help but love the on-screen chemistry between Shakur and Smith, who were actually real-life classmates and friends at the Baltimore School for the Arts.)

11. Love does not leave bruises.

Screenshot of A Different World (YouTube)

When the gang finds out that Gina's boyfriend, Dion, is beating her, they all encourage her to leave him. Ron threatens to beat him up: "I think you're campaigning for a butt-whoopin' and you 'bout to get elected." Whitley, Lena and Mr. Gaines give her lectures. And she finally files a report to the cops.

12. It is never too late to win over the love of your life.

Screenshot of A Different World (YouTube)