I am a product of a low-income household, in an impoverished neighborhood, with decrepit schools in an underfunded school district. There were more children in my household than my parents could afford. I was positioned to be another “Black statistic,” to not attend college, to have babies out of wedlock, to be incarcerated or dead before the age of 25. However, upon graduation from high school, I enrolled at The University of Oklahoma, a college that was way too big for me. The crowds of wealthy white students, completely unaware of their own privilege, driving nice cars and draped in fine clothing, swallowed up my confidence and made me unsure of my place at the university.
It was only after sharing my doubts and fears with a friend that I was convinced to visit “the mecca for minority and disadvantaged students,” a place called Project Threshold, but more affectionately known as “the community.”
Through my counselor Mrs. Crystal Perkins Carter, I found family and acceptance. She advised me to take classes that better suited my career goals. This was my safe place where she allowed me to vent when I was frustrated with racist practices, peers, and professors on OU’s campus. Project Threshold works because it allows minorities and low-income students to experience people who not only look like them but have the capacity to understand and empathize with their life’s experiences.
Since enrolling at OU, I have completed two degrees from the university. I own my own business, have secured a well-paying position, and have gotten married. This is in part due to the overwhelming support I received from Mrs. Crystal Carter.
Any proposed action to discontinue this program or remove any of the counselors is not consistent with the character of my alma mater; the university I once knew and loved. Our university is better that that.
When a university values money or “financial efficiency” over a shared mission of providing the best possible educational experience for all of our students through excellence in teaching, research, and creative activity, and service to the state and society, we devalue our university and do a disservice to our students.