Jailen Young's Hopes Have Become Accomplishments
For most North Huntsville natives like myself, college was a mere thought—an elusive dream of a possible, but distant future. My dreams after high school were dreams; just dreams alone, not much action was put towards them in the beginning. The steps it would take in order to achieve my dreams were not mapped out clearly. I knew, however, that the most vital step to my dreams was college.
My freshman year of high school I went on CAP & GOWN’s inaugural tour to Vanderbilt University. That was the catalyst for my decision to start giving myself options for college. CAP & GOWN opened my eyes to college. Once I was able to step foot on a college campus and hear personal experiences from other college students just like me, a future for me that included higher education options began to take shape. CAP & GOWN continued to take me and other classmates across America and even to Europe to expose us to the world beyond the roads of Mastin Lake and Pulaski Pike. CAP & GOWN believed in me and other North Huntsville students when no one else did and that hope went a long way for all of us.
The transition from Huntsville to Berea has been a much needed awakening for me. Coming from the more urban North Huntsville to the small town of Berea has forced me to intermingle with my peers. I have built friendships here that I would never have had in Huntsville. Berea is far more diverse than Huntsville is. There are students from all across the world, and more Caucasian people around than there ever are in North Huntsville. I have come to accept cultures that I used to make assumptions about. There is something about the cultures and norms I see here, such as seeing students walking around campus without socks or shoes, or when I hear “yee-yee” as I’m walking across campus that makes me very weary, but happy that I decided to come to a place like Berea so that I could get first-hand exposure to this diversity of thought and behavior.
I think about giving back to other students while I’m here at Berea. Right now, I feel like I can only give back on a very small scale, such as helping CAP & GOWN, and other similar organizations with tours of Berea’s campus and giving students my personal story. I know students from North Huntsville can connect with my experience, since I was very recently in the same classrooms as they are in now. Once I graduate, however, I know my opportunities to give back will expand. When I graduate I hope to come back to North Huntsville and be in the classrooms with the students and to continue to sustain the mission of CAP & GOWN which is to ‘create academic pathways and guide others wherever needed.’ It would mean a lot for me to have been a student of CAP & GOWN and comeback and be a living product of CAP & GOWN for other students to see. For many of us from North Huntsville the thought of making it out of 35810 is unimaginable, but for me to make it out and comeback and tell that story makes my legacy remarkable.