And you may find yourself

…and you may ask yourself, how did I get here?
-Talking Heads “Once in a Lifetime”

I’ve been in New York for two weeks. It’s long enough for me to fill a kitchen with the necessities, unpack my stuff, and for things to finally sink in. That I live here. That I go to Columbia. I can plan to do things and see friends weeks from now. The dream is finally real, and now it’s time to get to work. 

There have been many moments, some overwhelming, some overwhelmingly great, when I realize the next nine months will change my life. That’s not just being twee or with rose-coloured glasses. Today I took my first class with Jelani Cobb. That doesn’t happen every day.

When my mom was here for the first five days – helping watch over my stuff, buy my necessities at Target, make sure I went to all my orientations, and even meeting some of my friends – I realized how much I wanted for her to realize going to Columbia was a win for both of us. It was so much of her sacrifice, her primary parenting, her tremendous effort and support, that helped me to get to the brick-lined campus at 116th and Broadway. I wanted to show her I didn’t take it for granted.

“It’s the Ivy League.” Mom said this at least twice, each time with a grin and large dollop of awe in her voice. I could only grin back at her in reply.

I know I will learn so much this year – about journalism, about business, about the city and where I want to go next in my career. But one of the biggest lessons already came in the first week: how I have truly made my mother proud by simply being myself.

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