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HBCU Graduations

At Hampton, I found a home away from home and a true sense of brotherhood

‘In choosing Hampton, I truly believe that I have gotten an education for life’

From growing up in my hometown of Houston to entering adulthood in my Home by the Sea at Hampton University, my life has had its fair share of twists and turns. Still, through it all, I always found a way to follow my heart. I always found joy in my Blackness: my love for being Black, my love for Black people, Black music and Black culture. That is what led me to attend Hampton, a historically Black university.

I chose to attend Hampton because it houses one of the top communication schools among historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the country, the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications, where I majored in strategic communication with a minor in leadership studies. Making the 1,393-mile journey from Houston to Hampton, Virginia, as an 18-year-old freshman in 2018 was one of the most challenging things I had ever faced. The immediate change in environment, being so far away from family and building new relationships were a bit tough initially. However, it wasn’t long before I settled in and found my niche with other like-minded students who wanted to pursue a career in journalism and report on stories about the Black community.

As a freshman, I joined the award-winning Hampton Script, which has been the university’s weekly news source since 1928, as a reporter and eventually as sports editor. I also joined the William R. Harvey Leadership Institute, an undergraduate program that includes an intensive, interactive curriculum composed of 18 credit hours and a 400-hour service-learning internship. It was through the leadership institute that I first learned about working as a professional. From having to dress in business attire for my 7 a.m. leadership class to completing my 100-page capstone essay on mental health in the Black community as a senior, the leadership institute has challenged me in many ways and forced me to be accountable. There were many times I just wanted to sleep in and be lazy, but it helped me establish a good work ethic and follow through on my commitments.

In terms of life in Greek-letter organizations, the Divine Nine are pillars of the community and campus leadership at HBCUs. They focus on philanthropy in the Black community and uphold a set of values that keep students grounded and that lead to success. At Hampton, I joined the Gamma Iota chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity because I wanted to be a part of a brotherhood of excellence, men who I could call my brothers for life. Some of the greatest leaders of our time were Alpha men, such as Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens, actor Paul Robeson, civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall and activist Dick Gregory. Although Black Greek-letter fraternities are established at predominantly white institutions, I do not believe that the sense of brotherhood and camaraderie are the same as what I have experienced at my HBCU.

Hampton’s motto is The Standard of Excellence, An Education for Life. In choosing Hampton, I truly believe that I have gotten an education for life, one that has exposed me to job opportunities with the WNBA, Slam magazine and my current role as a Rhoden Fellow with Andscape. I am forever thankful for Hampton University for helping me find my voice as a journalist and the confidence to use my platform to speak about the Black community. After graduation, I plan to get my master’s degree at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State and continue to be an influential Black voice in the world.

Keion Cage, a native of Houston, Texas, is a strategic communications student with a minor in leadership studies. He currently serves as the associate editor for The Hampton Script, a student-run newspaper. Cage has written for SLAM Magazine and VYPE Media – a regional high school and youth sports platform.