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  • My Degree Is Black

Terrell Chaney| Alabama State | '15

Welcome to the MDIB Yard Dr. Asheli Atkins!

Reppin': Alabama State University, Prairie View A&M University

Grad: 2015, 2019

Major: English/Technical Writing, Educational Administration

Occupation: Global Learning Specialist

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.

Growing up, I always aspired to attend Morehouse College, in Atlanta, Ga. The idea of being around such a diverse group of intelligent black men was truly inspirational. The price of tuition, however, was the total opposite. In retrospect, choosing to attend Alabama State University was one of the best decisions I have ever made. By attending Alabama State, I got the chance to continue a legacy passed down by my aunt, which will hopefully be passed to future family generations. The education I received at Alabama State laid the foundation for every other achievement I have been fortunate enough to attain.

How did your HBCU shape you and impact your understanding of Black Culture?

The shaping of Black culture started on day one at Alabama State, with freshman orientation. From there, the university required every student to take classes centered around the Black experience! Those classes had some of the best and most knowledgeable professors ever. They ultimately confirmed that I made the right choice by choosing ASU!

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?

Bama State is well known for a variety of reasons, but most people know them because of the Marching Hornets! Our band, hands down, is one of the toughest in the SWAC. On the yard, my friends and I enjoyed hanging out in the student union, meeting up in the cafe, the live mixers, pep rallies at the old football field, and ooh wee, fried chicken Wednesdays. We stayed away from the dummy wall though (Bama State insider).

What do you say to people who believe HBCUs are not as good as Predominantly White Institutions (PWI)?

Historically Black Colleges and Universities were designed to educate African Americans at a time when we were not allowed to attend PWIs. If they were good enough for our ancestors, they are, indeed, good enough for us. I am a 2x HBCU graduate and a current doctoral candidate at a Predominantly White Institution. While I don't believe either is superior to the other, I must say the HBCU experience is something that you will ONLY get at an HBCU. I wouldn't take nothin' for my journey!


Tell us what you wish everyone in the world knew about the HBCU experience.

I really wish everyone in the world understood how pivotal of a role HBCUs have played in the shaping of not only Black culture but American culture too. Without HBCUs, there would be many ideas unthought of, many inventions never discovered, and many leaders never developed. The HBCU legacy is interwoven into the complex fabrics of our everyday lives, yet many people aren't fortunate enough to share in its comfort. A comfort that you only get at home!

Tell us about your most memorable HBCU experiences. (Yes we in yo business, tell us about all of 'em!)

My most memorable HBCU experience was when a few friends and I got matching Alabama State jackets and had our names stitched on the back. Although we probably looked corny, we loved those jackets. More than that, I would go on to say my HBCU experience brought me some of my closest friends.

Was it like Hillman on "A Different World"?

I believe the HBCU experience is different for everybody. My experience wasn't at all like "A Different World"

As any alumni will tell you, HBCUs are nurturing environments. What person(s) during your HBCU experience deserves some flowers and recognition?

Valerie Nelson, hands down, deserves her flowers. She and I worked alongside each other in the University Writing Center. She was caring, nurturing, and empathetic, and she looked out for me. I will forever love her for all the motivational conversations and lunch outings. She was the best!

How are you using what you learned from them in your everyday life?

My HBCU experience enhanced all the values my parents instilled in me. It taught me to be more punctual, a more forward thinker, even prouder of my culture, a shining example of Black excellence, an even better friend, and amongst other things, it taught me to be a life-long advocate for HBCUs.

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?

The future of HBCUs, I imagine, will be very diverse. According to research, there has been an increase in enrollment amongst all races, but most notably Latinx students are enrolling at much higher rates than before. In the future, I hope to see HBCUs continuing to lead in the enhancement of cultural and social integration amongst their diverse student populations.

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