Melissa Wright Essay Graphic

Our UGA 101 guide to campus includes letters of advice and recommendation from students and recent graduates. These are the opinions of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Red & Black. 

Although the University of Georgia has made strides toward creating a more diverse and inclusive student population, it remains a majority white institution. As a first generation college student and Black woman from a middle class family, I definitely observed the racial and socioeconomic differences between my peers. However, I don’t think being a minority significantly impacted my experience at UGA. It has, however, molded the way I view the importance of my perspective and underscored the values of my opinions as a person of color.

Your voice and your opinions matter. Being a person of color at UGA caused me to value my unique background and opinions much more than I used to. One thing that I realized while being one of two — or sometimes the only — Black person in some of my classes, is that if I don’t speak up, no one else will.

Whether it’s commenting during a discussion, having an idea or pointing out something that was racially insensitive, it’s really important to remember that your voice and thoughts are impactful and they matter.

You pave the path to inspire others. I remember the first time I toured UGA. It was the first of about three visits I made to campus before committing to attend here, but it definitely was the most impactful. The student leader of my tour was a Black woman. I can’t say that if she hadn’t been a person of color I wouldn’t have come to UGA, but it did change my experience. She inspired me and gave me hope that by coming to this school I would be able to find my niche.

In that same way, you, too, have the ability to inspire other incoming students. In spite of the odds, you made it to your current position.

You can create change. I think as students of color at this university, we should be the change that makes it even easier for future generations to obtain what we currently have. The entire premise of diversity is to bring unique opinions, perspectives and backgrounds that affect the culture and environment.

As a person of color at UGA, you have a unique power to create change.

Melissa Wright, class of 2021, is the Opinion assistant at The Red & Black.