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The Ultimate HBCU Tour & Educational Fieldtrip changed my life forever.

Updated: Oct 22, 2023

Not to be cliché, but I truly do not know where to start...

I would love to start with the strong and impactful statement that, truthfully, from the most unbiased or unbiased standpoints that the HBCU tour is the greatest, most influential, and life changing experience I have ever had in my entire life, topping the cruise and the religious/educational retreat I've been on.

Ms. Nicki (and the rest of the people on the tour) allowed me to find my voice; they brought me out of the dark place I was lost in and allowed me to fully aspire and act on my passion, to inspire and influence others in the best way possible.

As a 16 year-old boy, that attends a predominantly white, catholic school, I am faced with many challenges, temptations, doubts, and truthfully, this HBCU tour has allowed me to see and visualize (not in a humorous way) something a blind person would be able to see. This is not because of what I have seen with my eyes, but with what I seen in my heart. The beauty in every one of those students, the uniqueness of us all, and how ironically we all LOVED everything that Ms. Nicki put her blood, sweat, and tears into blessing us with.

Before I get into why Ms. Nicki and the people on the tour were so pivotal in

my life, I would like to touch on how appreciative and grateful I am to be able to have witnessed places, such as, The White House, The Lincoln Memorial, The African American History Museum, etc. I would also like to express how and why seeing these things were so important for me and why I truly and genuinely feel that more kids need to be exposed to this experience.

Seeing these things with my own eyes allowed me to realize (even more than I did before) that there is an entire world out there and all I have to do is find a way to put my name on it. I realized that there is so much more outside of the small city of Cleveland and that when you travel it doesn’t need to consistently be viewed as a vacation and/or a once in a lifetime opportunity, but as something or somewhere you could purely imagine yourself living or consistently traveling too. These places are on earth and in America just like Cleveland, and seeing them and experiencing them can be so much more than just a false paradise, but a lifestyle.

Ms. Nicki truly deserves her credit and appreciation. Ever since I was in the 6th grade (maybe even earlier) I have always wanted to inspire and motivate kids my age to work hard, travel the world, find something to smile about, get out of their comfort zone, do and see things you never have before; be authentic and genuine, and most of all, be yourself. This is legit, EVERYTHING Ms. Nicki blessed us with by allowing us to go on this tour.

We all went through laughs together, cries together, vulnerable moments

together, joyfulness together, and experienced overall, authenticity within one another. This tour has inspired me to personally educate myself even more on black culture and history, HBCUs and college life all around, and to continue to progress with speaking publicly, so I have the opportunity to travel and truly inspire others in the long and short run, by using my voice. I truthfully felt that I learned more on this tour, than out of all 11 years I have been in school and this tour has influentially (and exponentially) expedited and inspired my life, to work even harder than I did before. This tour has really shown me that if I want something I am going to have to go get it and I WILL go and get it, no matter what.

Ms. Nicki and the others on the tour, allowed me to feel courageous, confident, free, at peace, joyful, excited, accepted, loved, welcomed, and truthfully, mentally healthy. Everything I have said in regards to my experience so far has all been genuine. This is coming from me and how I feel. Ms. Nicki didn’t tell me to do this, she didn’t encourage me to gas her tour up or speak so highly of it, instead she told me to be honest about my experience and every single positive thing I have said about the tour has honestly from my heart and how it really changed me, and nothing else.

I would also say, even if you don’t have the money, or you're fearful that your child won’t fit in, or your kid isn’t interested in college and they don’t want to go, I would tell you despite how socially awkward and reserved I am, I would proudly stand up to you face to face and strongly suggest you to allow your kid to experience this life changing experience because I cannot thank God and those I love enough for this opportunity, because it really really really is the thing that has impacted me and touched me the most.

Thank you Ms. Nicki, thee Chaperones, all the students, and of course, my dawgs Big Ant and Special K. Thank you, to the one reading this, for blessing yourself with the ability to be open minded and for being interested in what we have going on. I promise you, this is no hook or catch to get you to spend money, because it is currently 10:21 pm at the time I am writing this, and I am telling you now that I would be the first person to stay up all night talking about this tour and would also be the first one to tell you (and beg you) to allow your child to experience this unbelievable and truly unimaginable experience that none of us will EVER, EVER forget. I will honestly always hold a very, very, very special place in my heart.

If you can, give your kid a chance. Bless them with the gift of going on this HBCU tour, and allow their true potential, passion, aspirations, motivations, inspirations, talents, abilities, blessings and so on, be revealed and unlocked. I love you and all my other brothers and sisters, Make sure when you wake up everyday that no matter how tough life is, that you always try your best to find something to smile about and be grateful for.

Navahn Woods, Junior at St. Edwards High School

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