Imani and Braxton:A Compton Love Story

By: Keisha Simpson-Baker

“Okay, Mom. Sounds like a plan. I guess I’m going to miss school on Friday?” I asked with raised eyebrows. She was very strict when it came to me missing any school. She checked my attendance regularly so the possibility of ditching was always out of the question.

“Well, this is worth missing school for, Imani. It’s not like you’re going to miss just to waste your time or squander the day. I’m going to call Ma and give her the good news!” She darted off to her bedroom to call my Grandma Elaine in a blur of excitement.

I began to comb through my closet for outfit ideas for this interview. I needed to look polished, intelligent and like I could handle anything thrown at me. As bad as I wanted this Wisconsin scholarship, I didn’t want to wish too hard because I knew that the odds were against me and I would hate to get my hopes up only to have my dreams crushed.

Friday October 8, 2014… Interview Day

Once I had put myself together and passed Mom’s inspection, we climbed into her Nissan Altima and headed off downtown well before interview time. She was more nervous than I was but at the same time, more confident that I would do well. We pulled into an IHOP a few blocks down from the office building where the interviews were being held. We sat down and I ordered my favorite, chocolate chip pancakes.

“Imani, you need to be real careful about eating those pancakes. I don’t want you to spill anything on your shirt.”

“I won’t spill.”

“Okay, do you want some practice questions?”

I smiled sweetly and said, “Not really. I think I’ve got it under control. I know I need to tell them about myself and what I’ve accomplished so far with my academics and extracurricular activities, and then just focus on what I want to do in the future.”

“So what are your plans for the future? They’re going to ask you what you plan on doing at their university.”

“I’m going to tell them that I am very interested in science since that’s my strongest subject and I think I could excel at Wisconsin. I would like to spend the first year exploring different science majors because the school has such a variety that I want to experience some classes before I commit.”

She seemed satisfied by my answer. “Alright, that sounds good enough to me. It’s a fair enough answer and at least you have some direction you’re heading towards. What if they ask you about why they should pick you over other students?”

“I’m not sure about that. I can’t compare myself to others whom I’ve never met.”

“No, you can’t compare yourself but you need to highlight what makes you great so that they give you a shot. You are a very involved individual. Looking back at all activities, groups and clubs that you were involved in shows that you will be very involved on their campus and in the Madison community. Lastly, you need to assure them that they won’t be wasting the scholarship on you and that you will finish and leave outta there with a degree and that will help you become a contributing member of society.”

Dang, she sounded good. I wished she could go up to the 7th floor of the building and have her do my interview for me.

“Okay, Mom, then that’s exactly what I’ll say.”

We hung out the rest of the morning in IHOP, watching the news and sipping coffee. Twenty minutes before show time, we headed out the restaurant and drove to the front of the tall skyscraper to drop me off.

“Imani, the suite number is 750. You have enough time to go to the restroom before then to compose yourself.”

“I’m really nervous.”

“Oh, baby girl, this is a huge opportunity so it’s okay to be nervous but you don’t need to be. Just be yourself and talk about all the wonderful things that you are, honey. No need to stress about this, though. What will be will be.”

“Okay, Mom. I’ll call you when I’m done. Do you want me to wait out here for you?”

“Yeah, I won’t be far so just call me and I’ll pick you up.”

I walked into the lobby of the fancy high rise and found the elevator, pressed the button and then waited. A Hispanic girl walked in behind me dressed in a business suit and looked just as nervous as I did. Obviously she was here for the same thing as me. We smiled weakly at each other as we boarded the elevator.

“Seventh floor?” I asked.

“Yes, I’m here for the interview, too.”

“Well, good luck. I hear they have enough scholarships for us both to get one.”

“True. I’m not even sure I want to go so far away from home, although it is a good opportunity.”

Was this girl crazy? If she had any doubts about going to Wisconsin, why was she here? I really hoped that whoever received the scholarship would be a little more excited than her to get it.

The elevator doors opened and we both stepped out. She headed to the office where the interviews were being held while I headed to the restroom. I checked my hair, makeup and clothes. Everything looked okay so all I needed to do was deliver. I walked into the office and checked in with the receptionist where she had me wait for about five minutes before I was called into the interviewing office.

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