How an HBCU Prepared Me for Harvard

My Thing Is: There’s no question about whether these schools are still relevant. It’s thanks to my time at Hampton that I was ready to take on the intellectual and emotional challenges of the Ivy League. 

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During my sophomore year in college, I reached out to a Hampton alum sister, Roslyn Das, the first lady at my church in Virginia, and told her that I felt I needed to manage my time even better. She helped me organize a vigorous though manageable schedule that would ensure I had set times to study, eat, rest and have time to enjoy my college experience. It helped me gain the focus to succeed as a well-rounded student, become Sport Management Major of the Year and graduate magna cum laude in three years. I used this same structure to set up my study times during my tenure at Harvard.

Though many students at other universities chided Hampton for its curfew restrictions, dress code and other strict policies, these rules influenced me to set standards and structures for managing my workload and activities, as well as for my personal presentation. I maintained those habits when I arrived in Cambridge, Mass., and that helped me focus on the most important thing: the amazing educational opportunity I was offered.

When my roommate told me during freshman year that she’d chosen to attend Hampton because it was “the Harvard of the HBCUs,” I wasn’t sure what to make of that. Today I appreciate Hampton for what it is, and consider it not a substitute for Harvard but an essential part of my personal pathway there.

Editor’s note: Read about the record acceptance of black students at Harvard here.

Mia Hall is a reporter, speaker and host who speaks and writes on topics including community outreach, sports-business careers, mentoring and youth development. She is currently a community manager at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., and blogs at Mia’s Full Court Press. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.