Where Did the Time Go? The Journey of an Oakwood Graduate
Graduation was the shortest, most exhausting yet liberating experience of my college career. In the beginning of my journey as a freshman, I often tried to envision what the end of my journey would be like. And to my surprise none of my daydreams were even close to what God had in store for me. It felt so surreal — as if I just woke up one day and suddenly I’m a grown woman. It was crazy to realize that I did it! I finished college in four years — time flies when you’re being blessed! As I waited to receive my diploma, different experiences and memories were running through my head like a slideshow displaying my life as a college student. Then it hit me: I not only attended this institution, but I was able to make a difference while I was there.
Becoming a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Queen or any position of leadership comes with its share of challenges. But it was during my reign that I realized I was chosen — of course, by the judges but, most importantly by God — to be Miss Oakwood. And because of that, He blessed me in order to be a blessing to others.
Through resources and creating a support system, I helped Oakwood University focus on mental health. I teamed up with Healthy Campus 20/20 and hosted mental health testing and brought in outside resources to provide information for the students. I held panel discussions on mental health and collaborated with Danita Jones Productions, which wrote a play on mental health and the aspects that plague the black community. I also hosted a program highlighting different areas of mental health and provided outside counseling services to campus.
The biggest thing I’ve learned after serving as Miss Oakwood is you can’t save the world by yourself — you have to take it one day at a time and let God do the rest. As the song says, “If I can help somebody as I pass along, then my living shall not be in vain.” My main goal was to plant the seed to help people realize that it’s is OK not to be OK and help is available. And as the first Miss Oakwood to tackle this issue, I can proudly say mission accomplished!
Kenalia N. Cooper