PHOTO BY LATEEF OKOLO/MANAGING EDITOR FOR VISUAL AND MULTIMEDIA
Alabama State University is preparing to send off its seniors into the real world, and Jamil Edwards is one of those many seniors.
Edwards is a rehabilitation service major from Pittsburg, California, where he attended Pittsburg High School.
In high school, Edwards was a two-sport athlete where he ran track and played football. He was member of two organizations Male African American Network (MAAN), which allowed him the opportunity to build connections with important figures in his community. Edwards was also involved with with Black Student Union (BSU), this organization was for African American students who were excelling in the classroom.
Edwards explained why he selected Alabama State University as his university of choice.
“What made me come to ASU was the scholarship they offered me,” he said. “Also, my mom is from Montgomery, Alabama, so she has always talked about it. My grandma also attended Alabama State University, and it is always the place I envisioned myself at when I thought about college. When I was a junior in high school, I took a tour of the school, and I accepted this school as my own. This is exactly where I wanted to be at the end of the day.”
Edwards was asked whether he thought the university had lived up to his expections.
“I can’t give you a direct answer about whether it lived up to my expectations,” Edwards said. “I think the atmosphere did. I enjoyed the sound of the band week to week. There is nothing that can compare to the atmosphere of an HBCU. I believe that every African American should have this experience. From football games, all the way to basketball games the energy cannot be matched. But that is not to say that everything about this school is perfect, I have experienced my lows. So I guess my overall answer is yes, looking back on the experience as a whole I have a greater appreciation for some of the things that I went through.
Edwards talked about the challenges he faced since he arrived.
“During my junior year, someone broke into my dorm,” he said. “The campus police did not do a great job of helping me recover my items. They kept telling me that they found some of my stuff at the pawnshop and stuff like that. And that was a challenging period for me. I have never dealt with a situation like that in my life. I was scared, and I needed someone to help me out during this time, and they had no answers.”
“The biggest thing I truly learned is that I should never rely on ASU PD for anything. They do not handle real issues well, they are only effective when things are going on that are not relevant. At the times when the police are not necessary is when they decide to show up.”
Edwards spoke on what faculty members influenced him.
“One of my biggest influences is Carolyn Stevens. I think with both of us being from the West Coast we bonded differently. She was my advisor for a good period and she always checked up on me to make sure I was always good. And I feel like that is something every student should find someone to connect with. Coming in as a college freshman can be challenging, but having a person to give you advice when you’re experiencing college life you need someone like her. College can seem stressful and sometimes you can always use somebody to guide you.”
As for the advice, he would give to a high school student looking to attend Alabama State University, Edwards was very straightforward.
“My biggest advice is to stay on top of your priorities. Whether that be financial aid, academics or just organizations in general, it can become overwhelming. There is a certain level of awareness you must have as a student. I have learned the Alabama State professors that will work with students as long as you put the work in. Also, make sure you stay involved in as many organizations as possible because those resume fillers can go a long way. Organizations, also allow you to build relationships that you will cherish for life. For example, I know that there are students that want to run for SGA positions, and to do that you need to know as many people as possible. Having connections with people can go a long way you never know who you may need in the future.”
Edwards talked about some things that he would like the university to change after being here for four years.
“I think it is time to update some of these buildings. The conditions I have heard people say they lived in are crazy. There is no reason we have this beautiful football stadium, but we have people living in bad residence halls. How do you explain that to students that come here on a visit? We only show students the cleanest parts of the campus. We should be showing them every aspect. But to be honest, this is not just an ASU problem. All HBCUs face this issue to a certain extent.”
“We should also improve the communication between faculty and students. For example, the Cares Act situation would not have happened if there had been clear communication between the two. Instead of telling us how the money has been dispersed, they would rather send us out a check without explanation.”
He talked about joining the alumni association after graduation.
“More than likely I will. I see the changes that need to be made on this campus and to implement those changes, it starts with the alumni organizations. The school only gets so much in their budget yearly, it is graduates that make the school what it is. I want to be someone that can inspire the next generation of Hornets the way my family did for me. As I said earlier, I felt like I had no other choice than Alabama State. My people instilled in me at a young age that this was the place for me.”
Edwards spoke on his plans after graduation.
“I have a couple options, first the internship I work for currently has offered me a job,” he said. “So I may end up staying here and working with them, I also plan on applying for a position with the San Francisco 49ers when I get back home. But I definitely have a few options that I am considering, I plan on taking it day by day and letting things fall into place.”