“I’d been wanting to come to Jackson State since 2015. My father figure was a J5 drum major back in his day. The only thing he ever talked about was Jackson State. And we hear so much about it in the Virgin Islands. I researched the school and fell in love with the band and everything else. I never wanted to go to anywhere else.

I wanted to come here right after high school. But when you’re young, you think you know everything, and you don’t want to listen to your parents. That was my situation. After high school, I went to a community college and got involved with people who I thought were my friends. And things happened that really conflicted me. I got betrayed, and it hurt a lot. I fell into a very dark place. I didn’t know myself. My mother and I didn’t talk for almost a year because of my decisions. Everything just started to crumble right before me, but I learned a very valuable lesson. It turns out that if God doesn’t want certain people in your life, He will remove them. I started to pull myself together and remember what I actually wanted to do. I moved back home and started to focus on what I needed to do to get where I wanted to be. And I had a lot of support.

So don’t give up on your dreams. That’s where you’d go wrong. If you change your dreams, that’s fine. But don’t ever give up on them. Don’t feel like just because you hit rock bottom, that’s it. My grandmother would always tell me that you have to pray and maintain. When you pray and maintain, so many opportunities can come to you in so many different ways. Once you have faith, anything is possible.”

– Diata, sophomore entrepreneurship major Saint Croix, Virgin Islands