When Carly Hill attended East Cleveland’s Shaw High School
, she was accustomed to being one of the star pupils — earning good grades, participating in mock trials in preparation for her planned law career and she was often chosen for special projects.
Hills describes her experience at Shaw being a part of a small group of students intensely interested in learning. In fact, she earned all As, except for her first and only B in 11th
“Imagine being in a class of 20 students,” Hill says. “In most of my classes, there was a small group of students interested in learning among a disruptive group, and as a result, we were always the only ones picked for special projects. Then those five well-behaved students were placed in AP and honors classes. That group of students aren't necessarily there because they know more, it's merely because they are not disruptive.”
So when Hill graduated in 2010 as valedictorian and headed off to Howard University
on a scholarship, she expected life to be the same at the prestigious college. But things were different from the moment she stepped onto the Washington, D.C. campus.
“Shaw High School is 99.9 percent African American and Howard also is an historically black college, and I thought I knew what it was like to be black,” Hill recalls. “But I was around a completely different group of people. It was culture shock.”
No longer was Hill among a select group of serious straight A students. She was among the country’s best and brightest. “I expected it to be a little different, but not as
different, and I knew it was a good college” she recalls. “It was a real culture shock to realize they don’t know me and I had to prove myself. At Shaw it was not as hard to separate yourself. At Howard, everyone is that kid, everyone is the best.”
By the time she got to Howard, Hill had decided to major in biology instead of law. But she was not prepared for the required chemistry minor and received a D in the class. Hill lost both her scholarship and her self-confidence. After her first semester, she briefly dropped out of Howard.
“I lost hope,” Hill says.
Read the rest of the story
to find out how she regained it.