First Black Student at USF

The First Black Student at USF: Ernest Boger

The black history of our university paves the path for future students of color

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February is Black History month, which spurred me to research into some of the Black History of my own university. There has been many inspirational students of color at the University of South Florida, and all began with one great man. In 1961, University of South Florida accepted their first black student to the university, Ernest Boger. Like many, Boger worked hard for his eventual acceptance to USF. He graduated valedictorian of his high school class and obtained an almost perfect score on his college entrance exam.

While at USF, Ernest Boger continued to be a great academic, as well as highly involved throughout USF activities, especially in the band. One thing that made me very proud to be a USF student is Boger's comments on his transition to USF. Though he did say it was difficult feeling like an outsider in comparison to everyone else, he felt accepted by many at college. However, the same could not be said about the community. For instance, Boger reflects on a time where his band mates and him went to a local restaurant, but the manager refused to serve Boger. As a reflection of true Bull culture, Boger's band mates along with other USF student protested the restaurant for days, until they were attacked as a result. I am so proud to be at a university that supports people of color, and immediately supported the only African American student at the university when he was confronted with outright discrimination.

Despite the discrimination and racism he faced, Boger continued his education at USF, graduating with a bachelor's degree in psychology. And then went on to get a doctorate! Reading about Ernest Boger makes me proud to continue his legacy as a African American student at USF. Especially in the presence of a racially charged society that still presents many limitations for African Americans in the work force, despite the education they worked hard to acquire.

Ernest Boger did not let discrimination halt his success, and neither will we.

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A Letter to the High School Senior Ready to Graduate

You are nearing the end.
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Dear Senior,

Congrats! You are nearing the end; you have finally made it through the four years you never thought would end. You made it through the dress codes, the late night cramming, the endless extra-curriculars and so much more that made your high school experience unique.

You persevered through the classes where you learned material you knew you would never use again, as well as the early morning classes you never wanted to wake up for. You made it through the drama you thought for sure ruined your life as well as the heartbreak that made you not want to walk the halls again.

These moments are almost gone and in the past, and I am certain you are so excited to leave the place where everyone knows who you are. As the days become numbered, you look forward to independence and a college where you can start all over.

I know you are excited for the future, but please remember what you are leaving behind.

You have passed your last Friday night football game. The next time you return to that stadium, you will be watching from the stands in a different atmosphere. You are coming up on your last dance. You will never shop for a dress that makes you feel beautiful or ask the girl of your dreams to dance with you again.

You won’t be in the student section cheering on your team with your best friends again. You won’t dress up for homecoming again. You won’t be a part of a team with your best friends. All these moments that went by so fast, so quick you didn’t even take time to realize it was your last, are gone.

Soon you will walk out of your high school hallway for the last time as a student. You will empty your locker that you shared with your best friend, who is probably going to some school hours away from you. You will finish your final test with the teacher you hated but they took the time to know your name. You will return your books, your computer, and say goodbye.

Then you will open the doors, so excited to leave the place you called hell on multiple occasions. Perhaps in this moment you will realize that this school will never be the same.

You are now an alumni, and you will never be the same walking in those hallways the way you were for four whole years. You are no longer a student, upperclassman, teammate or friend. Everything changes the moment you walk through those doors.

Soon you will walk across the stage, accept your diploma and say you did it. At that moment, look around. There are so many people you will never see again. The person you did countless projects with is going across the country and might never come back.

The person who lapped you in the mile is now going into the military, and you have no idea when you will see them again. The friends you spent endless Saturday nights with are leaving too. The people you grew up with, the ones who knew your birthday and favorite subject, won’t surround you.

Perhaps you find comfort in leaving familiarity, but remember that these moments are your last. Appreciate them, because when fall comes, everything will change.

You will leave your parents, your pets, your siblings. You are packing 18 years of your life into boxes as you try to gauge how much clothing you’ll need to bring because you have no idea when you’ll be home next.

You are leaving homemade meals and short drives to places you love. You are leaving everything you have ever known. Your parents will go back home, and you will be stuck alone at a place you now have to live at for the next few years of your life.

Professors won’t remember your name after the first semester. You will cry because you changed your major for the third time in four weeks. You have to choose classes that determine your future. Your parents won’t be there for you when you are sick. Your friends won’t be there when you have no one to eat with. You won’t have time to free read or think beyond the realms of school. You will constantly be buried in homework and anxiety. You have to rebuild yourself, by yourself.

So, senior, when you are so ready to go, please take a moment to realize what you are leaving behind. You will not get these moments back. The last dance, test, lunch, game, tailgate – appreciate them. College is amazing and filled with memories, but do not rush these last few weeks; you will never get them back.

The future will come soon enough. As you prepare for “firsts,” you are also approaching your “lasts” – embrace them please.

Sincerely,

College Student

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To The Teacher Who Changed My Life

I didn't know how much you were doing for me then, but I have to thank you now.

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Walking into your class on the first day of sixth grade there was no way I could've imagined that your class was going to have the impact on me that it did. You were my science teacher and prior to your class I absolutely dreaded the topic, so what could someone who absolutely hated science take away from that?

A new admiration and love for the subject.

I'm now pursuing a Bachelors of Science through the Department of Integrative Biology at that's not something I would've ever considered in a million years had it not been for you. Before you I had no idea that I could make a living out of researching animals; I thought the only career paths I could go down were veterinary. Then you started talking to me about how you used to be an ornithologist, and you talked to me about the work you used to do. I remember how we had these talks as we'd walk to lunch, and I remember them very fondly. As time passed you eventually began inviting me out on bird scoutings into the Everglades that you would be attending. You really took me under your wing- no pun intended.

It's because of you that I realized I wanted to spend my life doing research on animals that I loved. The way that you spoke about your former research with such passion made me excited for a future that had yet to come.

Most college students come into their first year not knowing what they want to do, and an even larger number of students change their mind over some course of their college years. Because of you, when I was eleven years old I made up my mind what I wanted to go to college and study. I am now nineteen and I have not wavered from that for even a second in the past eight years. In fact, I am more confident than ever that this is the road that I am meant to be going down.

So thank you.

Thank you for spreading your passion to me. Thank you for giving me someone to look up to. Thank you for always encouraging me. Thank you for my life a direction. And most importantly, thank you for continuing to support me all these years down the line.

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