Experiencing Fisk

An HBCU Alumna Perspective

It’s been five years since I’ve graduated from Fisk, and I appreciate the HBCU experience more than I did on May 9, 1999, when I graduated with a degree in business administration. As a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, going out of state to attend a university would mean that I would need to have people around me that care for my educational goals and respect my values and beliefs. I come from a very close-knit family unit with strong values and a passionate belief that each family member must support each other’s goals. Therefore, I was looking for a university that would mirror my family background.

Fisk was the exact mirror of my family unit. It’s a small, intimate university in which your classmates become like your brothers and sisters, and your professors become caring mothers and fathers. In fact, one day prior to graduation, the president of the university invited my family to dinner because I was an honor student. I don’t know many universities that have presidents who would invite a student’s entire family, including extended family members, to dinner. Fisk is definitely a university to attend if you are looking for a home away from home.

During my first year at Fisk, I was scared because this was the first time that I would be away from my family for an extended period of time. Like most freshmen, the girls in the dorm had a lot of late nights doing homework and had many small gatherings in our rooms. My sophomore and junior year, I chose to live off campus, and surprisingly, I missed the family atmosphere that Fisk provided even though I was participating in various activities, such as the Delta Mu Delta Business Administration Honor Society, the Mortar Board Honor Society, and tutoring other students. In addition, the university is so liberal that they afforded me the opportunity to openly share my religious beliefs with others by setting up a table with books and brochures in the student union hall. However, it just didn’t seem like I was truly getting the entire “Fisk Experience,” so I decided to move back on campus for my senior year.

As a financial economics major in the business administration department, I had a very challenging curriculum. Because of the support of the professors and the teamwork of the students, I was able to earn numerous scholarships such as the Fisk University Patricia Walker Shaw scholarship, The Cincinnati Jewish Foundation Scholarship, and the Cincinnati Scholarship Foundation scholarship award.

The professors at Fisk really took an interest in my education. They taught all of us to work as a team and to work very hard. I had professors that made themselves available day and night, preparing us to be global leaders. Other entities must have recognized this as well; I had the privilege of representing Fisk as one of the ‘Emerging Business Leaders’ in Essence magazine. In addition, I was honored to represent Fisk on national television during the United Negro College Fund’s Evening of Stars program in 1998.

I’ve also benefited professionally from attending an HBCU. My first job out of college was as a business analyst at Deloitte & Touche Consulting Group, proving that you can attend an HBCU and attain a lucrative salary upon graduation. Currently, I work as a software designer at one of the largest technology companies in the Chicago area and am currently pursuing my MBA degree.

Fisk taught me survival skills, excellent communication skills, and instilled in me the values of teamwork and giving back to your community. I felt comfortable completing my higher educational goals around people of my same culture who were very intelligent and striving to be leaders and innovators in a global society. My five-year reunion is coming up, and I believe now more than ever in the motto instilled in me at Fisk, which was Fisk Forever Backwards Never. This has truly been the case in my life and because of the skills and values that Fisk instilled in me, I will never go backwards; I can only overcome challenges and obstacles that come my way.


This article was written by Tanesha Johnson

Tanesha Johnson graduated from Fisk University in 1999. She currently works as a software designer in Chicago, Illinois, and is pursuing her MBA.

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