Last week we shared the latest episode of AT&T Dream in Black’s Rising Future Maker pep rally featuring HBCU student Eryka Anabell Clarke.
This week we get to know Eryka Anabell Clarke on a deeper level. The Brooklyn-bred HBCU senior comes from a tight-knit Bajan family and describes her older sister as her best friend. Eryka Anabell says when she was applying to colleges she initially set her sights on a prestigious PWI nearby her school, but after attending an Accepted Students day at her HBCU she changed her mind.
“When you think about universities, especially as an immigrant child or a first-generation child, you automatically resort to PWI’s because that’s what’s advertised to you,” Eryka Anabell explained to Global Grind. “I had grown up and been in amazing school systems because my mom would move me across the globe to make sure I could get a good education and sometimes that would mean I was sacrificing my identity,.I was in PWIs as a child, so I didn’t really have that representation, and I’m not growing up in a Black American household, I’m growing up in a Black Caribbean household so I was missing out on a lot of those cultural experiences, so attending an HBCU was probably one of the best choices I ever made.”
Clarke says nearly as soon as she arrived at her HBCU freshman year she knew she was in the right place.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but when I got here, the arms that catch you are something that you are not going to experience anywhere else,” Eryka Anabell described to Global Grind. “That’s the beauty of attending an HBCU. You have faculty and staff who want to see you succeed, not just to do their job and fulfill their role, but in fulfilling their role they want to see the next generation of Black professionals in whatever field that they’re teaching in. They’re offering you extensive help in so many different areas to make sure you’re okay. With all of that, I knew I was in the right place because I couldn’t fail, not even if I wanted to. Not even because of my drive and tenacity but because of the connections that I made and mentors that I had who wouldn’t even let me. And I can confidently say that I feel the same for anyone who comes after me. I invest so much time and effort into my mentees, sponsoring students, and mentoring students because that’s how I got to where I am. I think that’s one of the key moments when I knew I was in the right place – when I had found a family.”
Eryka Anabell is extremely busy on her campus, thanks to her role as Vice President of her school’s Student Government organization and her spot on the speech and debate team. She also gives back via the non-profit she cofounded — which provides mentorship and other resources to other first-generation college students. Clarke says her personal experience actually inspired her to create her non-profit.
“I entered my HBCU and I didn’t know what to expect,” Eryka Anabell told Global Grind. “My sister was the only person I knew who went to a four-year college and she didn’t go to an HBCU, both she and I were starting to pave our path for whoever was to come after us. That’s the motto of the non-profit — “What Will You Leave Behind?” That’s literally what we’re doing, we’re leaving behind a trail that we hope others can follow.”
To learn more about how AT&T Dream In Black is recognizing and celebrating HBCU Students through Rising Future Makers, visit attdreaminblack.com/rfm.
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