- My Degree Is Black
DaKira Taylor | PVAMU | '17
Welcome to the MDIB Yard DaKira Taylor!
Major: Computer Science
Can you briefly walk us through your HBCU story? How it started, how you got there, and how it helped you get to where you are today.
Let me start off by saying when I was in high school, I didn't know the difference between an HBCU and a PWI... I didn't even know there was a "difference". I just knew I wanted to go to college to further my education! In high school, I joined my school's band at Townview Magnet Center. (The Big "D" Band). Through my band experience, I learned about Prairie View A&M University. Since my high school was a magnet school, we didn't have sports; we only had the band. So when it was homecoming season, instead of our school getting ready for the big game, we were getting ready for The Battle of the Bands. Every Friday night, before the battle, PV would come to my high school and perform. Seeing the dancers was magical to me. The big hair and seamless tights were like looking at black barbie dolls. The Black Foxes were the ONLY reason I joined my high school's band majorette dance team because I wanted to be one of them. After applying to PV and getting accepted, I headed there the summer after my senior graduation to a summer engineering program that would eventually change my entire life as a student and now adult! My journey from middle school to high school to college was already mapped out for me! Did I know those things would happen, no, but I am so grateful they did! Have I gone through trials, man yes!! Do I regret any of them, absolutely not!
How did your HBCU shape you and impact your understanding of Black Culture?
Coming from a community where black and brown people were prominent, going to an HBCU was not a "shell shock" to me. As soon as I got to campus and saw people that looked just like me, I felt right at home and treated that place just as such. I am so appreciative of my choice of going to PV because I learned so much about myself, the people I wanted to hang around and why! I grew out of my hometown shell and blossomed more into the woman God designed me to be. I had experiences that I wouldn't have had at any other college and I met people and left people I never thought I would as well! Being around so many black people made me feel comfortable and at home all the time. Not once did I get homesick or nervous about being "on my own" because I knew that once I graduated, that was going to be the case anyway! I am DaKira, but my HBCU made me Redd ❤️
Before we go any further, let's have a brag session! Tell us about your HBCU(s). What are y'all known for? What are the most exciting things about the yard?
PPPPPPPPVVVVVVVVVV!!!!! YOUUUUUUUJ KNOWWWWWWW! (And that's just that ON THAT!!!) The first thing that probably comes to mind is (and let's be honest), parties, engineers, and nurses 😂 Very black and white on the spectrum to strangers, but it definitely gives.... well-rounded to me! The most exciting things on our yard are definitely Greek life and our CAB (Campus Activities Board). Without either, college would not have been as much fun as it was.
What do you say to people who believe HBCUs are not as good as Predominantly White Institutions (PWI)?
"BOOOO!!! 🍅🍅🍅" Because huh?! 😂 What makes any PWI better than an HBCU? The teachers..? The students..? NOTHING!! Are people entitled to their opinion, yes! But don't make a comparison to something based on biased and ignorance. In my opinion, people who say PWIs are better than HBCUs have never experienced an HBCU and engulfed themselves in the college experience! Is it for everyone, no! But no one is better than the other! Pick your school, enjoy your experience, and don't leave hate and negative comments. PERIOD
"I AM DAKIRA, BUT MY HBCU MADE ME REDD"
Tell us what you wish everyone in the world knew about the HBCU experience.
It's truly what you make it!! Go to the cafeteria every day with your friends. Go to crazy parties every semester. Walk by everyone's RV during the tailgate at homecoming. Have crazy all-nighters with your friends singing karaoke. Do everything you want to do! Sounds like life advice..because it is! Having the opportunity to be my complete self around men and women that looked like me was just a bonus! Imma show up as Kira all day, but to know that there will be more people who are like me, in the same vicinity, makes everything 10x better!
Tell us about your most memorable HBCU experiences. (Yes we in yo business, tell us about all of 'em!)
I have a few...
1) My sister was turning 21 and we were having a party at a house off campus. I was already 21 and I was VERY inebriated (this is well before I knew my limit lol). I ended up falling asleep at the beginning of her birthday party and waking up when it was over 😂
2) Getting into a heated altercation with my "at the time best friend/roommate". I'm not a confrontational person, so seeing myself in a situation like this was very abnormal. This situation brought so much light to who I was, who I was sometimes pretending to be, and who I wanted around me going forward. I have never been SO grateful for a situation to happen because I was able to lose a person to me who I thought would be my lifelong sister to actually gaining one
3) Any time hanging with the fam (ECI). Doesn't matter if it was a house party, meeting or just running into each other on campus, seeing them always made my day sparkle!!
Was it like Hillman on "A Different World"?
Imma be honest...
I didn't get a chance to watch A Different World until I was halfway through college. Unfortunately, I didn't have any examples of what I thought college was going to be like. That resulted in me not having ANY expectations either.. which ended up being a great thing for me. Was it like the show? I mean, to certain degrees, yes lol, and to others... nah!
As any alumni will tell you, HBCUs are nurturing environments. What person(s) during your HBCU experience deserves some flowers and recognition?
The first person I would like to give flowers to is my best friend turned sister! Her name is Cierra and we roughly met our freshman year through a mutual friend, but became roommates our junior year and have been inseparable since. She has been my rock through so many life decisions and she continues to hold me down and keep me accountable so I'm able to grow!! I learned from her so so much and I would have never known that beautiful human at my HBCU.
The second group of people I would like to give flowers to is the amazing fraternity, Epsilon Gamma Iotas, Inc. I joined this organization my junior year and felt the love of friendship and family immediately! If it was not for these people, half of my college experience wouldn't have existed! Not only were we attached at the hip in college, but we all continue to grow with one another post-grad as well! This organization has given me a lot more than I expected, and only God knew I needed these people.
How are you using what you learned from them in your everyday life?
Being self-aware is a top trait! Through life experiences, therapy and growth, I continue to be a better person every single day. The things that I continuously learn from my sister and members of ECI are still shaping me at 27 years old! I graduated almost 6 years ago and I am still working on myself to be the best version of myself and I wouldn't be this far if it wasn't for them! I take every piece of solicited advice and attempt to apply it to my life! If I don't make the change and they see me going back to my old ways, they will call me out and get me straight! Real people who love you will do that for you! I wouldn't have them without my HBCU!
Thank you for showing us Your Yard and telling us Your Experience. Before you go, tell us, what do you imagine for the future of HBCUs?
I imagine them to continue to grow and to continue to show up!! Keep y'all feet on these folks' necks!! They don't want us to win and they don't want us to prosper no matter where we got our education!! Continue to cultivate future leaders and build a better world for my children! Black people are so magnificent and luxurious and the world will continue to know that!