Nia’s college journey: A year of growth

Nia Lartey, a freshman at George Washington  University, participated in the 2018 Acel Moore workshop. This is her final  blog post of her first year of college.  

By Nia Lartey

Well… that was fast.

To be honest, it’s still hard to believe my first year of college is over. When I was packing up my room, all I could visualize were images of move-in, fresh as if they had just happened yesterday.

Yet, 34 credits later, that’s exactly what it is: over. I’m proud to be able to say my first year of college is characterized by growth. I’ve grown professionally, personally, and in my faith over the past months, and I’m looking forward to continuing to grow over the next couple of years.

In the past months, close friends have helped me recognize the importance of being direct, of knowing your worth, and “shooting your shot” (in a networking type of way). While like any college, GW may have it’s downfalls (I could talk about diversity all day), D.C. is full of opportunities. And herein lies the rub: Opportunities won’t be handed to you; you’ve got to go out and find them.

Nia and her friend, Adwoa Obeng, taking in a baseball game at Nationals Park in April. It was Nia’s first major-league game, and she left a happy fan as the Nationals defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates, 3-2. 

I’ve also been forced to realize more and more that while I can do anything (with God’s help) I can’t do everything. Journalists barely sleep enough as it is, and joining every club or committing yourself to a bunch of time-consuming activities on top of that will literally have you running on empty. You also have to find a line of involvement when it comes affairs happening back home.

Additionally, your time is always precious, but I believe even more so in college. Who you decide to spend time with and what you decide to spend time on are factors determining the next steps of your path in real time. While it’s nice to be a part of things, it’s not particularly pleasing to be a Jack-of-all-trades and master of none, or not being able to give your all.

For me, realizing that meant making the decision to quit my school’s newspaper as the only Black person on staff for my upcoming second (and subsequent) years of college. While reporting stories are very rewarding (and what I know undoubtedly I aspire to do professionally), I’m a student first, and there are other outlets worth spending time on that will help me balance the two.

Nia and friends Quiara Mosely (center) and Abeer Siddiqui attending St. Mary’s Episcopal Church for Easter services.

The experiences I’ve had at GW so far continue to leave me in admiration and pinching myself to make sure this is my reality. I was able to go to a CNN Town Hall featuring James Comey (Thanks, Garret!) because I live in this city. I was able to participate on a panel on school shootings, do the annual embassy walk (as well as regular midnight monument walks) because I live in this city. And this year, thanks to the GW’s chapter of the National Association for Black Journalists, I’ll be attending my first-ever NABJ conference in Florida.

Nia with CNN anchor Anderson Cooper after a town hall meeting in D.C.

As a low-income college student, my GW experience is one that I definitely wouldn’t be able to have without the support I do have. I’ve been blessed to have awesome people in my corner who continue to push me to my full potential — from academic advisers, professors, friends, and an amazing church community, to mentors from back home and in the journalism profession who continue to give me guidance. (Thank you Oscar Miller, my Acel Moore and my JCamp family!)

That said, I’m grateful to serve on GW’s Black Heritage Celebration committee as a Programs co-chair next year. I’m also so excited to stay in D.C., working as an Emma Bowen Fellow for C-SPAN over the next three summers. It’s one step toward my dream job, and I can’t wait to see where it will take me.

My first year of college, flaws and all, is in the endgame. But as for this DC love affair?

It’s just the beginning.

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