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Friday, August 19, 2022

Leaving our Panther at the Aggieland Playground

Candace J. Semien / July 8, 2022

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Rarely do you expect a teenager to casually rattle off some profound insight. Even rarer is it to get him to elaborate on the statement. As we traveled from Louisiana to NC A&T for the New Student Orientation, we drove through Greensboro neighborhoods comparing them to “home”.

Dad said, “Noooow, we are in the big ‘hood. Look around!”

We did, noticing houses on the hill with basements nestled partly underground, and to our right was a simple playground with green and brown equipment.
“Look at that playground. That’s what we have,” he pointed.

Collin, our new high school graduate, responds, “What’s wrong with that playground? Nothing’s wrong with it.” He looks out his window and over his shoulder as we pass it. “Don’t you know the playground is a mindset, not a location.” He said.

“What did you say? ‘The playground is a mindset not a location.’,” I repeated, then googled to see who he was quoting.
No one.

Graduating from Louisiana’s first high school designated for Black students and experiencing the legacy of the McKinley Senior High School panther pride, our youngest son had chosen to matriculate and master agriculture and music at the #1 HBCU in the nation…more than 14 hours away.

It has been quite an experience-including bee lining across four states, impromptu meetings, self-guided ag tour, and spontaneous horn auditions. All leading him to choose A&T. Aggieland.

As with all other parents attending NSO 4 this week, we watched our children trek through their new blue and yellow playground, making new friends, and preparing to succeed and enjoy life. The faces of fathers and younger brothers, mothers and younger sisters, and a few grandparents were full of pride knowing how hard our children had worked to earn admission. Within our pride is hopeful concern about the marvels and mayhem that will unfold in Aggieland.

We didn’t meet a family that wasn’t excited walking the campus. The dozens of A&T’s administrators, staff, deans, professors and student leaders who we met proved ready to receive our best seed. We share high expectations of our students and of A&T as they move together into this new phase of life.

For a second time, the Semien family saw the academic rigor, musical excellence and deep-in-the-bones pride of A&T.

It is now Collin’s playground – in mindset and location. He and the class of 2026 will make us AggieProud.


Candace Semien, from Louisiana, is a proud parent of an incoming freshman attending North Carolina A&T State University this fall.




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