From Dropout to the Dean’s List

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From Dropout to the Dean’s List

A Student's Thoughts on the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge is More Than Just a Competition
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From Dropout to the Dean’s List, how the @Honda Campus All-Star Challenge changed one student's life:

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(L-R) Andre Davis, Terri Simon and Dalvin Ford Jr. of Southern University at New Orleans during the 2012 Honda Campus All-Star Challenge.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 6:00am


There are a lot of things you probably shouldn’t do if you want to succeed at college - or at life in general. You shouldn’t, as I did, get kicked out of high-school for some petty nonsense that you won’t even clearly remember 10 years later. You probably shouldn’t, once you finally do begin at university, habitually skip class. You shouldn’t, as I did, surround yourself with people who are comfortable not thinking, not improving, and not progressing. You probably shouldn’t drop out of college. You definitely shouldn’t drop out three separate times.

If you do these things, you will likely find yourself in the same position that I found myself in September of 2010. I was working ten-hour shifts slinging drinks at a bar in a bad neighborhood to support a toddler and an infant. I had re-enrolled in school, but I wasn’t serious about it; my cumulative GPA was 1.78.

I was sinking.

Early on that semester, my American History professor, made an announcement at the end of class. The school’s academic trivia team was holding an event on campus. I usually left campus right after my classes ended (that is, if I came to campus at all), but I decided to stay and check out the event. I had always watched Jeopardy! and played pub-quiz. Plus, I was hungry, and my professor said that there would be pizza.  That’s how I discovered HCASC. I immediately joined the campus club, which met twice a week to practice. Because I had to come to school for HCASC, I stayed for my actual classes; and, to my surprise, found out that I actually enjoyed them. Because I had to meet eligibility requirements to participate in the program, I pushed myself to raise my GPA. That semester, for the first time since 5th grade, I got straight As.

Next week, ten years after dropping out of high school, I will graduate from Southern University at New Orleans with a B.A. in English and History. I have been on the Dean’s List for six semesters running. I have the highest GPA of any student in my department. And in the fall, I will begin working toward earning an M.A. in English Literature. It would be an oversimplification to say that participating in HCASC saved me from sinking. My family’s support and the guidance of some very special (and amazingly patient) professors as well as my own willpower and ability have played an important role. But HCASC was the catalyst for my success.  Taking part in the program provided me with the thing that had been missing from my academic life: connection. My fellow teammates, my coach and our program director have become a network of support that I can rely on to push me and motivate me. Perhaps more importantly, my HCASC family has given me someone to be accountable to in my academic life. More than anything else - more than my own parents’ lectures, more than my husband’s praise, more than my own desire for success - knowing that my team is watching has kept me focused on school.

There are a lot of things you probably shouldn’t do if you want to succeed at college, and I did more than a few of them. But luckily, I found HCASC - and powered my dreams to success.

CATEGORY: Education