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Navigating a PWI as a Person of Color

Estimated reading time ~ 2 min
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Are you a college student of color currently enrolled at a predominantly white institution (PWI)? The idea of existing in situations where the majority of other students do not look like you can seem very nerve wracking. In this article, you will learn exactly how to transcend these emotions.

Do Not Lose Sight Of Your Hard Work

It is important to acknowledge how powerful your mind is; it can play a lot of tricks on you. Impostor syndrome, for instance, is one of the most common experiences present amongst students of color attending PWIs. If this term is unfamiliar to you, impostor syndrome is the belief that one’s success was not deserved or thoroughly earned. The sole state of being the only person of color in a classroom can affect the psyche in this way. In order to challenge these misconceptions, it is important to keep in mind that you and your peers are equals; meaning that you worked just as hard as your white peers, if not harder, to make it to where you are. You graduated high school, got that degree, and rightfully earned your spot in college. Do not let anyone else make you believe otherwise; you deserve to be there just as much as the next person.

Find Your Niche

One other thing that will make these situations less difficult is finding your people and your places; those that make you feel comfortable. Create a circle of friends who empower you and make you feel secure in your own skin – perhaps this means finding people who look like you! This can be obtained by also becoming part of diverse campus groups like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Black Student Union, etc. Finding strength and confidence in numbers will make it that much easier to find it within yourself.

Focus On What You Are There For

Finally, just in case you needed a reminder, you are not there to prove yourself to anyone. You have made it this far so you have already proven it to yourself and that should be enough. You are there to learn, to find what you are passionate about, to set up the rest of your life. Prioritize this and finding peace; everything else comes after.

People of color, especially students, are often made to feel like they do not belong in certain spaces. But that is not for anyone else to decide. Take up space and be your own authentic self! Above all, you are in college for a reason – cherish how far you have come and make the best out of your college experience.

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