Here at Tuskegee CAENS, we love to hear about the experiences our students have with their journey of higher education. Our latest series highlights real experiences from real students and alumni across the school.
Finding My Focus
When I started as a freshman at Tuskegee University, I had no idea of the road that was ahead of me. I moved into a house called Freemason of Silver Trowel Lodge #10 with two of my closest friends, and we became known as “3-Houses-Down-From-Quiznos” because we loved having people over. By the time my third year came, I joined the cross-country team, I held a position in my lodge, and I met my first true love. I thought I had it all together until I was held back from graduation because I had to retake some classes. Although I was very involved, I had a hard time balancing my priorities. During my fourth year I had a dead semester, so I picked up History as a minor to fill in the gaps. I knew I needed to focus, so I started tutoring, I became a vegetarian, and I taught a masonic class of my own. During my fifth year, I moved into a higher position in my lodge and joined the TU modeling troupe Rave Revue. That summer, I took summer classes and mentored a group of high school students in research. I went to an event at Morehouse Medical School and met my first chiropractor, Dr. Carhee. I was intrigued by his practice, so during my sixth year at Tuskegee, I spent the last six months at the VA hospitals for my internship at the labs.
I felt like everything was going my way until my 3-year relationship ended and I lost my focus again. I wasn’t financially able to register for my last semester, and I kept getting in trouble in the lab. I passed all of my exams, but I had given up on myself with only one semester standing between me and graduation. Finally, I met a former mayor of Tuskegee and he gave me a pep talk and got me back moving. I managed to get my finances in order and I registered for my final semester, when my close friend and roommate, Eric Marks Jr., passed away from a series of unfortunate events that began with an asthma attack. My focus tried to waiver again, but I knew he would want me to keep pressing on, so I finished my final semester and graduated, despite the hardships that came across my path.
Throughout my time at Tuskegee, I didn’t always focus on the great things that were happening. All throughout my college career, I had the opportunity to travel around the country, do research, and win awards under the guidance of Dr. Alexander, who became my mentor. Dr. Whittington was another mentor who took me to Morehouse and introduced me to my passion, chiropractic practice. After I finally finished my undergraduate studies, Dr. Whittington believed in me and helped me get into one of the top chiropractic schools in the country, Southern California University of Health Sciences. I am currently in my second year of a doctorate program that I didn’t even know existed before my time at Tuskegee University. I am back home with my loved ones, and I fell in love again. Through those times when I thought all was lost, I didn’t realize that there were so many greater things ahead of me: I had to keep that focus, that hope. And I’m so glad my TU professors believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. I don’t regret anything I went through, because it’s what made me who I am now.
- Derell Hampton'07 | Bachelors of Construction Management