“Sociology was not my first major at Jackson State. I started as a finance major. But I looked at the curriculum; I took economics in high school. It didn’t really mesh well with me. So I changed my major to urban studies, and that’s when I took a sociology class. And I thought, ‘This is it. This is me.’ I started to learn about theories and how people interact with each other. So when I figured out sociology was the area in which I belong, I was like, ‘Okay, I’m a sociologist.’

I want to get my master’s in philosophy. I want to change the perception around the way that we, as black males, think in society. That’s one of my main goals – to change the rhetoric surrounding the African American male.

But my next goal is to take all of my experiences at Jackson State and pour them into people. I believe in community development, not just physical development but mental development. We have to show young people that HBCUs are not these party schools. They’re black knowledge. Our teachers are history. And I really want to show that I am who I am today because of Jackson State. Without Jackson State, I would not speak as well as I do. I would not be as comfortable as I am in front of audiences. I would not know how to network like I do. So I want to show people that this is what an HBCU can really give you. But what you take from it, you also have to give back to it.

The best thing about Jackson State has to be the people. We can sit on the plaza and have a full conversation and I know that we have a connection. Or I could walk into the Legacy Food Court and speak with one of the workers behind the counter and know that they fully support me in all that I do. They can see me walking around – in regular clothes or in a suit – and say, ‘You’re going to be a successful young man. Don’t let anyone tell you different.’ So it’s really not just the students. It’s not just the faculty or just the staff. It’s everybody together that really pushed me to know that I can do this. I have a full army behind me, and that army is Jackson State.”

– Michael, senior sociology major from Tulsa, Okla.