Kierra Gray #pivot #RayRay

Ahh. To think of my experience in the Minor in Writing and my undergraduate career in general is nostalgic. April 21st, 2014, actually marks the day that I completed by last final exam at the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor. However, life has only begun. I have so many hopes and dreams in regards to my writing and career ambitions, plans, and hopes for the near and far future. Let’s start with the basics. I will be graduating from one of the best schools in the world with a concentration in Women’s Studies, a minor in Writing, and Afro-American & African Studies. I have so many interests that I don’t know what I want to do exactly quite yet. I know for sure that I want to attain a master’s degree, but a master’s degree in what is the question. I want a Master’s in Business Administration to complement my master’s degree in another specialty area, but let’s not jump the gun.

Although this is an exciting time in m life, I cannot speak on my future without speaking about my past. Sankofa. On June 10, 2010, I graduated from Southfield Christian High School. To finalize my senior year in high school, I chose an amazing senior project. I had the opportunity to work at the University of Michigan Detroit Office. It was my responsibility to gather admissions material from some Detroit Public Schools and assisted with the incoming freshman with their transition into the Summer Bridge Program. I was able to transition to the university through the Summer Bridge program two weeks after high school graduation. By the time the fall semester came, I was already familiar with the campus, and this made the transition less challenging. During my freshman year of college, I had the opportunity to begin to think about my identity as a Black/African American woman. I have always been interested in writing and people, but this is when I really began to narrow it down. I knew I was interested in Black culture and how my identity fit into my community. At first, I wanted to apply to the Ross School of Business and then I wanted to apply to Communication Studies. After I decided to forgo both of those options, I began taking a couple English classes and Afro-American & African Studies classes. While I was trying to decide if I was interested in public health, I took some Women’s Studies classes. I changed my major and minors over and over again. Fortunately, with the concentration and minors that I settled on, I could use the skills that I would gain in any field. It’s crucial to understand the Black American identity, to understand how that intersects with being a woman, and to have above average writing skills. This was the perfect fit for me. I knew I was going to graduate school anyway.

These last four years have been a crazy ride. I have had many ups and downs academically and personally. I am coming out a better person than how I entered the university, but I still have so much to learn and I am honestly still trying to find myself. I have had a chance to go overseas twice. During my freshman year, I participated in the Global Intercultural Experience for Undergraduates. My plan was to go to Kenya, but that fell through so I ended up doing the Detroit site. For my next experience, I participated in the Contemporary London Program spring 2013. That was one of the highlights of my undergraduate career. I had a friend that was an exchange student from London living in the same dorm as me travelling back to the London around the same time that I was going. I also have a friend that has family in London that I had the opportunity to visit. Also, I have three other friends that were on exchange at Michigan, one from Japan and two from Australia that were travelling the world and decided to stop and visit me in London. My post-graduate plans involve me going abroad and planning my next big move.

Let’s start with my post-graduate plans for the next two years. I will be graduating from this prestigious institution on May 3rd, 2014. On May 15th I will be travelling to Ghana, West Africa. I have always wanted to travel to the Motherland and experience West African culture. This will give me a sense of returning home despite being generations removed from the continent. I will be conducting research about maternal and child health among women miners in Nangodi. I will be there until June 14th. When I return from Ghana, I will have a break for a couple days to get myself acclimated to the states and then I will begin training for the Michigan College Advising Corps. While I train for the corps during the summer in Ann Arbor, I will be doing an independent study within Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgrander, and Queer Studies to fulfill my final requirement. I will be studying attractionality among women of color. Upon my completion of training, I will move to Grand Rapids to serve at Ottawa Hills High School as a college adviser. This is an extension of my experience as a student leader at the Center for Educational Outreach.

In regards to my writing ambitions, I would love to run a blog about my experience being a Black woman living in the United States. I want to speak about my experiences, Black political and social issues, and maybe advice for Black youth. I want to share my experiences about attending a predominately white institution with youth planning to attend college. I would also have a section speaking about researching Black genealogy. During my freshman year, I began seriously researching my ancestry. With the information that I have found over the years, I hope to write a book. I want to entitle my book Sankofa: A Black American Story. I have in mind how I want to set the book up. It will be divided into three parts. Part 1 will begin in West Africa. Part 2 will be in the United States. Part 3 will be the present day into the future. I want this book to enlighten my fellow Black American’s about the diverse Black experiences and histories and encourage them to reflect on their past to understand their future. Sankofa. 

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