When I was in the AA Program, I found my passion for writing. I took every opportunity to write, so much so that Dr. de Kramer, my anthropology professor, had to send back my final paper twice because it exceeded the page limit. I was encouraged to pursue my passion for poetry by Dr. Teague, my professor and mentor, so much so that I was able to give a spoken-word performance at the annual art showcase and submit my poems, which would later be published in the Spring 2020 Train River Poetry anthology.
I hit the road with a few friends and professors to the University of Maryland to attend the SLCE Conference, during which I bonded with my professors and new friends and learned about how I can involve myself in community activities. I was nominated for many opportunities, including peer mentoring, fellowships, work studies, internships, and even poetry performances. I’m currently involved in an independent study where I research closely the history of Wilmington and the progress of the Delaware Center for Justice since the 1920s.
See, despite popular belief, Wilmington is not just some city where the University of Delaware dumps its below-average students, as I had been told. It’s the birthplace of art, activism, politics, history, and excellence. The Associate in Arts Program is not a camp full of second-rate professors, inadequate courses, and careless students. The professors — who are organized, experienced, educated, structured, and encouraging, no matter how brutally honest their advice may be — are amazing at what they do. Their courses are planned effectively and efficiently and framed around the city of Wilmington so that we not only learn about the subject matter but also learn how it can be applied to the outside world.
From learning the science of beekeeping at the YWCA, to anthropology at Rodney Square, to English at the Creative Vision Factory, to Criminal Justice at DCJ, the Associate in Arts Program was much more than the threatening image once presented to me. And for as long as I breathe, while I move forward, I will continue to defend its true image and purpose: No, I’m not a high school failure. No, I'm not poor or mentally unstable. No, I did not miss out on a true college experience. I got the best one I could’ve asked for, and the only thing I regret is not realizing it soon enough so that I could soak in every experience and opportunity.
It’s sad to have had my last semester in the city cut short and to realize that my graduation ceremony from this program will probably never take place. But I stand, proudly, as an 18-year-old rising junior at UD and an Associate in Arts Program graduate.