One CCICS Student’s Experience

Kenisha Hoskins, Writer

I was starting a serious journey in my life; yet, it didn’t feel like it. During high school, I was labeled “at-risk.” I was the student considered less likely to transition into adulthood, have academic success, be job ready or be financially independent. In a way, I began to believe these things. What was my purpose in life? Who was I? These were questions I battled continuously with. In the alternative school setting, I wasn’t prepared for college or even given the resources to decide the next steps for my life.

Jacob Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies (CCICS) helped me find that direction. Upon enrolling at NEIU, I started at CCICS. I enjoyed the energy and attention I received at orientation. The staff were very attentive and was excited about the new wave of students.  

A mentor of mine told me about CCICS so I checked it out; I had no idea what I wanted to major in. After taking a few courses in the Inner City Studies (ICS) program, I knew I wanted to major in the field. It was after enrolling in this program, I began to learn more about my cultural background.

I felt betrayed; I was robbed of my cultural knowledge during my entire high school experience. What did I really learn in high school? What did I know about being an African American woman in a world systematically built against me? The smaller class settings made lectures more intimate and dialogues more intense.

With comprehensive academic advising, my advisor Nekenya Walker suggested I should double major. A undergraduate degree in ICS requires only 30 credit hours but would need 90 hours to graduate. This academic advice was very beneficial and helped me step outside my comfort zone as I dreaded having to travel up north to the main campus for class.

I was grateful for the convenience of my entire course schedule being on the southside campus. CCICS was my safe space. I didn’t have to travel far or spend money on gas; I was winning. I soon realized I was cheating myself. After completing my classes for Inner City Studies, I began taking classes at the main campus. By that time, I already decided to major in communications, media and theatre.

For me, it went hand-in-hand with my ICS degree. Jacob H. Carruthers expressed the importance of “researching the researcher,” and understanding that media does not always report on the behalf of the reported. It is important that people of color are in the midst of the driving forces behind media outlets. Reflecting back, I realize that I was scared. Scared of larger class sizes, diverse social interaction and most of all I was scared of failure.

Currently I am a senior at NEIU. I am a double major in inner city studies and communications, media and theatre. I have a 3.94 GPA. Even though I was scared of larger class sizes, diverse social interaction and failure, CCICS prepared me for it all. Despite the Freshman Cohort Program being introduced fall 2019, in a way it has always been in effect. I am a prime example. I am a scholar that has grown both professionally and personally.

Due to hands-on training and lectures from brilliant professors such as professor Kimya Barden, professor Lance Williams, professor Zada Johnson, professor Sunni Ali and professor Robert Starks, I am able to be more effective in my community.

Jacob Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies