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  • My Degree Is Black

Tierra Shelton | Clark Atlanta University | '12

Welcome to the MDIB Yard Tierra Shelton!

Reppin': Clark Atlanta University

Grad: 2012

Major: Fashion Design/Merchandising

Occupation: Entrepreneur | Vlogger | Model

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.

I am the oldest of five children and of course, the oldest child is the one who has the most expectations, per usual. I knew what HBCUs were based off of research, and the tv shows/movies that I grew up watching gave me an idea of what it was like. I applied to five of them and got accepted into every single institution. Clark Atlanta University was my first choice but the last to send me my acceptance letter. My matriculation taught me a lot about being a black woman in society. The drive, the determination, the hustle, etc; CAU taught me to not be scared. Find a way, or make one is our motto. That phrase sticks with ALL of us. We really make a way out of nothing.

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

Ohhhh, let me tell yall something! CAU is real heavy on black culture. We’re all we got. There were so many things that I learned in lectures that weren't taught to me anywhere else, let alone in the household I grew up in. My HBCU shaped me into a go-getter, but to also move smart.

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?

So drumline, stomp the yard, school daze, and many other movies/shows were filmed on our campus. The infamous Spike Lee attended film classes there. Also, Eva Marcielle, Kenya Barris, DJ Drama, Hosea Williams, Pinky Cole, etc also graduated from there. Big names do BIG things. The most exciting about the yard is that there was ALWAYS something to do or something going on whether it was a cookout, a party, an open mic, or even just seeing black folks studying together for a midterm.

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

The joke is on them. *shrugs shoulders*


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

You create your own village. Your lifelong friends are really people you bond with in college, then they become family. The social experience is very rewarding.

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

Freshman Year. The semester didn't start yet and my class was already getting into mischief bwhahha. We broke into the student center and threw a HUGE party.

Was it like Hillman on "A Different World"?

Actually, yes. I grew up watching black sitcoms and A Different World is one of my favorites. I always pictured myself attending an institution of higher learning with others who looked like me.

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

Professor Constance Boothe. She is one of my fashion professors. She is a woman of substance and someone who ALWAYS spoke life into me.

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

Not to show fear in your dreams of wanting them to become your reality.

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?

More funding and more scholarships for HBCU students.

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