I was invited to speak at my high school twice in the past two weeks after not having visited the Campbell Hall School campus in nearly two years. The first, I spoke at the Lead Like a Girl: Empowering Girls at Campbell Hall event. I was among a diverse panel of female alumni in front of a group of prospective parents detailing my experiences of how Campbell Hall prepared me to become a female leader in adult life. When asked questions like how did you find a clear voice at Campbell Hall or what skills you developed that enabled your success in college and beyond, it forced me to really think.
In order for me to clearly answer those questions, I had to take a long walk down memory lane. My time at Campbell Hall was such a juxtaposition. Here I was excelling socially, in the classroom, teachers and faculty gravitated towards me almost immediately and all the while I was hating it. I made it a point to make my mom’s life a living hell for sending me to a school I didn’t want to attend. Every year, we would go back and forth about how I wanted to transfer to a public school and every summer I would be preparing for another year at Campbell Hall. I was best friends with the likes of Magic Johnson’s son and sitting in class next to the son of the owner of Guess/Marciano Jeans, the son of the owners of Canters Deli, the granddaughter of the creators of Days of Our Lives. In the midst of all this ironic juxtaposition, however, I did find my voice.
What Campbell Hall enabled me to do was to be myself, to try activities I never would have fathomed trying like being a cheerleader or prom queen, sitting on a Board of Directors exploring the flaws in the school’s diversity efforts. I found my voice unabashedly speaking out about controversial matters of race relations at PWI’s and how the attitudes of students was reflective of just the larger temperature of race in America.
As for the skills I developed well, leadership, resilience, not taking no for an answer and assertiveness.
The second event I attended was a meeting for Black Student Union for Girls (BSUG) lead by current faculty members Patrice Chanel and Kena Dorsey. Patrice was my cheerleading coach for the four years I ws at Campbell Hall, while Ms. Dorsey joined the faculty the year I was graduating. I looked into the eyes of each and every one of the young ladies in the room before assessing how I wanted to steer the conversation. I saw a piece of me in every single one of them and was overcome with nostalgia realizing I was a sophomore in high school a decade ago. I covered college, attending a private school with black male counterparts who were completely uninterested and how to deal with it, being the only one in class when discussing “black
I was pleased to hear that despite attending PWI’s for most of their lives, the ladies still gravitated towards one another. While I did not have the most seamless friendship with some of the other young ladies in my class, I have since developed meaningful relationships with many of them.