What is it Like to be an FGCU Alumna?

30 Mar

            Growing up with such amazingly strict parents like mine, I knew I had to go to college, but I did not know which, where or how to apply. I did not have any older siblings to ask for advice on which school to apply to. My destiny, my future were in my own hands, at my own risk– the good thing in mind was to keep my parents happy by attending some university, that’s all.

FGCU Graduation           I always knew I would have had taken loans if I chose to go to college; my parents just would not be able to afford it. A couple of months before my high school graduation, my counselor advised that I applied for HOPE scholarship; some of the requirements were to be a first generation student, to have good grades and to write an essay, stating why should that individual be selected as one of the recipients. Hey, that’s me! I applied for the scholarship. However, there were some terms I did not like. The scholarship was to attend Edison community school, now Edison State College, for two years—then to transfer at FGCU. “Man, my uncle went to that school, that’s a boring school… No one wants to go to Edison,” I said to myself. My counselor forced me to apply for it; so I ended up applied. I knew I did not spend much time, as I should have on my essay. I did not care! I could have written a better one. They asked for double-space; I gave single-space; see, I didn’t care. With all that, a few weeks later, an Edison representative called and said I was one of the selected students. Yay me! But I was still not happy. Why? Because most of my friends were attending FSU or USF, FAMU, FAU, UF, etc. I wanted to be with my friends, to party and or do “whatever” they were into. Until graduation week, I did not tell anyone which school I was going to attend or what the future held for me.

I graduated on May 23, 2008 and started college at Edison the second week of June, to be exact. I went to Edison because I didn’t have anywhere else to go, that’s what I kept telling myself.  However, as I took more classes, I started to have a different vibe than I envisioned. During my time at Edison, I met some amazing people. I was very involved on campus, which helped me throughout my entire college years. I joined multiple clubs and organizations, like Student government, Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), Multi-cultural, attended amazing trips, represented the school. I even became the president of one of the clubs, Creative Expressive Club.  I was getting the hang of it! I started to like it more and more.  And at that moment, I started seeing some of my friends who went away to “big” schools–coming back. They were either dropped out, too expensive; it was not what they expected or they were trying to take classes at Edison. It was surreal to me at first, because I thought these people were having the time of their lives while I was being bored in Naples. With a lot of help from many hands, I had mentors who were making sure I was on the right track, with school and everything else.

Two years went by, I finished my AA degree at Edison and it was time to transfer to FGCU. Boy, was I nervous about the outcome? I was petrified on how I would have fitted with new students; also, it was the first time I would have to share a “home” with other people who weren’t my immediate family. First day I moved in, everyone was so nice and friendly. My roommates and I got along pretty quickly. One of the greatest things about FGCU, it was and still is a small university, so it’s easier to be noticed by others, easier to make friends. I moved in on a Thursday, there were so many fun activities going on that weekend, so it was easier to make friends before school started on the following Monday. Another great things about FGCU, it’s easier to qualify for scholarships; I graduated from FGCU with a full-ride and not many students can say that; I was not an athlete or a 4.O student.

My classes were no more than 30 students; that’s it! I had only one class that had over 50 students but less than 100; which was a journalism class.  Even with that, we would break into different groups on Fridays so we could go over what we didn’t understand from the lecture. Easy A, right? I developed relationships with most of my professors; and I know they wouldn’t hesitate to write me letters of recommendation whenever I’m in need for one. I built relationships with my professors where I wouldn’t be able to, if I was in a bigger university. They, (my professors), especially my theatre ones, made sure I was headed on the right track and told me which classes I needed to take.  One thing that also worked for me is that from the day I started at FGCU, I visited the same academic advisor until I graduated, Ms. Laura Fitch. She understood me; she always had the time to talk to me, whether it was interest on an internship or not doing too well on a class. She was always there and I went to see her as many times as I possibly could each semester.

To be in small programs like theatre and journalism at FGCU also helped me to develop relationship with my peers.  And it was always easy to know exactly who to call; everyone knew each other’s name. We weren’t that many, anyways. With that, my three years went by fast. Also, I became the president of one of the clubs/organizations on campus, Haitian Student Organization (HSO) and I was member of many other organizations. I loved every minute of it. The friendship I built with students, staff members and professors were just amazing. From someone who didn’t know what she was putting herself into, someone who didn’t want to go to either one of those two schools, because my friends were not going there— I’ve come a long way. Now, I am an alumna from FGCU with a major in Theatre, a focus on Screenwriting and a minor in journalism. I am proud of my school! At one point, no one knew who we were; I would go to conference with one of the organizations; they would do roll calls, called every universities and colleges but FGCU, because no one knew we even existed. I mean, look at us now…?

I thank the basketball team so much for their hard work. With sport and school, it’s not easy; yet they manage to be great players and keep up with their grades; I am very proud of them.  We are on the map now, I’m sure other colleges will look at us differently! My name is Myrlande Charelus and I am an FGCU Eagles’ graduate!


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