Reflections on College Life from Nzinga Shury, University of Maryland – College Park ’13
Brooklyn born and raised — Coney Island to be more exact — and honestly, 7 years ago I would have never imagined I would be where I’m at today. I am currently a rising senior at the University of Maryland, College Park. While college has never been something that I saw as unobtainable, I never imagined it would be like this. In fact, I’ve only dreamed that I would be attending a university like Maryland and doing all the typical “college-like” things that I saw in the movies. Oddly enough, that was my motivation to get where I am today.
Growing up in the projects, it was very rare that I would see or so hear about people were going away to college. If I was lucky enough, I heard about those striving in our local community colleges which at least afforded them the educational benefits that high school diplomas were beginning to lack. For myself, I knew I always wanted more. Academics was something that I was just effortlessly good at and being taught from young that “knowledge is power,” I knew that it would be my education that would get me the higher monuments that I hoped to achieve.
Fast forward to my senior year in high school, college application time: secretly I didn’t apply to much schools and I really didn’t look into too much of the financial stuff. I just knew I wanted to attend the University of Maryland because I knew of the prestige it held and my sister lived only 30 minutes from campus, so I wouldn’t be totally ostracized from my family. Fortunately enough, I applied and was accepted and in August 2009 shipped off to College Park.
Over these past couple of years I have definitely found my niche on my campus and set out to make myself known to my campus community. I served executive positions on both the Black Student Union and Black Communication Society’s executive boards during my time at the university. Being on a predominately white campus, I started out in my comfort zone but also branched out and became a Resident Assistant, where I helped to assist students in the residence halls academically and socially. The biggest benefit (aside from the free room and board) were the all the great people and opportunities that I was offered that I wouldn’t have received any other places. Additionally, working in ResLife on my campus has allowed me to be awarded numerous times at banquets and university award ceremonies.
Aside from my academic and leadership experiences, College Park has allowed me to meet an amazing collage of people. Though majority of my closest friends are Maryland natives, I‘ve had the pleasure of interacting with people from the Midwest, California and even Washington State. Us all getting each other hip to our own city cultures. And of course, I have managed to share a bit of Brooklyn with everyone I’ve encountered (Proud New Yorker)!
College can be difficult though! It’s cool to believe the hype in that case, but it’s definitely not impossible. I have never pulled all-nighters the way I have while at Maryland or felt the realness of homesickness until realizing I’m still a New York resident, but Maryland bound for most of the year. God has been a main factor for getting through it all though; God and my support system. Making sure I surrounded myself with positive energy and positive people definitely got me through some of my toughest times. Most importantly, making sure I kicked back, relaxed and PARTIED ever so often kept me calm and lowered stress levels!
In my final year of my undergrad career, I cannot confidently say what my next step will be. Am I scared? Nope! I am living my pursuit of happiness. Serving as an intern at the American Association of University Women, an amazing non-profit for women’s equity and a recent initiate into the Kappa Phi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. I have already obtained more than I would have even imagined! So take college by the horns and ride out! There is nothing that you can’t do unless you limit yourself and honestly the sky is the limit. Take it from me, this Brooklyn native, anything is possible! And while I’m just going with the flow for the moment, my homie Kid Cudi said it best, “I’ll be good once I get it, I’ll be good!”