Kent State Student Finds Purpose, Passion and Empowerment
For Diamond Lauderdale, Kent State University is not only her chosen college, it is her home.
While growing up in Akron, Ohio, Ms. Lauderdale’s home life was challenging. She lived with her disabled father and worked two jobs to help make ends meet. Ms. Lauderdale’s father had been unable to walk for many years, and as she got older, her father’s condition worsened. Through it all, Ms. Lauderdale held onto a dream. She wanted to get a college education.
Ms. Lauderdale’s father did not graduate from high school, so she understood that the hope of a college degree was an ambitious one. But her dad always encouraged her to put her education first, she says.
Not everyone was so supportive. But despite plenty of people telling her she would not succeed, Ms. Lauderdale kept dreaming.
“I would try to just do better and not let it affect me and take me down as a person,” she says.
Above all, she says, she wants to make her dad proud.
When she arrived at the Kent Campus to start her freshman year, Ms. Lauderdale soon discovered that the community would not just be her school; it would be her new home.
“To me, everyone at Kent State is like my family,” she says. “It’s my home.”
Kent State’s EXCEL program for first-year, exploratory students helped her to choose a major and put her in touch with other helpful programs.
Working through Kent State’s Center for Undergraduate Excellence, Ms. Lauderdale discovered Academic Diversity Outreach through Kent State’s University College and the Key Connections program, which helped her find campus opportunities and money to pay for books.
She earned an Oscar Ritchie Memorial Scholarship and a Trustees Scholarship, which covered tuition for two years.
Ms. Lauderdale is studying human development and family studies with a minor in international communication and a concentration in family life education. She finished her freshman year with a 3.5 grade point average (GPA). For her sophomore year, she serves as a resident assistant.
“I love to connect with people,” she says. “I was fortunate enough to have people there for me when I was on my own. I didn’t know who to reach out to for help. Kent State taught me how to reach out for my resources, and that it’s OK to get help and OK to tell my story.”
In the summer of 2018, Ms. Lauderdale served as a Flashguide for Destination Kent State, the orientation program for incoming freshmen. She enjoyed addressing the concerns of incoming students by sharing her own story of overcoming obstacles.
“A lot of kids think that everyone has it easy,” she says. “It can be hard to adjust to college. I tell them, ‘Don’t be scared. Don’t let fear affect your choices. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.’”
After all she has overcome, Ms. Lauderdale credits Kent State with helping her reach her dreams, and she has advice for new students: get involved and take advantage of all the university has to offer.
“You meet friends,” she says. “You make those connections. You aren’t alone. People are there for you.”