So often, like other Americans, I have stood with my hand over my heart and sang the words of our national anthem placing special emphasis on the words “for the land of the Free and the home of the Brave.”
Also, undoubtedly, though most of us stand proudly when we sing the “Star-Spangled Banner,” the song ushers forth a range of diverse emotions, dreams, and expectations in current day Americans who have emerged, one way or another, from a nation that was built by diverse immigrants. Fortunately or unfortunately, as a nation, we are still defining “freedom” by the actions of millions of Americans. Just what does it means to be “free” across America?
As I celebrate yet another birthday, I watch the developing millennial generation, and I imagine American in 2052. I have definite hopes and dreams that we will truly build a nation that has implemented a definition of freedom that assumes caring about each other. I hope we are building a nation of people who are courageous enough to fight for the tenets in which our nation was built. I also hope we are building a nation that cares about the development of personal character and the well-being and security of the least of us.
Before you go there, I am not naïve. Steeled by the broad shoulders of Chicago, where I was prepared for a “life of the mind” and nestled by the dreams of my southern, and depression era, mom–I think I see us for what we are. I see our possibilities for altruism, our potential for more innovation, and our genesis that could be employed to tackle the intractable problems that were once conceptualized by Nelson’s book, The Moon and the Ghetto (1977).
I guess that is why I enjoy higher education–especially I enjoyed participating in higher education at Cheyney University. The majority of the students who attend(ed) Cheyney University are first generation students who arrive on campus as survivors of K-12 systems that were not really designed with them in mind. These students come to campus as immigrants to a new, broader, and more complex world with a depth and scope they could not imagine before arriving. The transition into an academic environment that prepares for a more interdependent and broad-based global economic environment is daunting for many students–even those who come ready to work for the American dream.
What Cheyney University hopes to do through programs such as the University College, the Keystone Honors Academy, Athletics, Learning Communities, the Entrepreneur Leadership Institute, and STEM scholarships is to acclimate students through their affinities to a world of possibilities. Moreover, through student engagement activities which include leadership seminars, introduction to American s/heroes, the Arts and Culture lecture series, student internships, and mentoring options, Cheyney University hopes to transform its graduates into resilient Americans who will responsibly move forth with their hands over their hearts proudly representing the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Anything else is unacceptable!