INDIRA GRAHAM,
CLASS OF 2016


Temple University
Class of 2021
B.A. in Communications Studies, Afrocology Minor


 

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Page Backgroud Photo Credit: 
3 SAT TV STUDIOS

"You determine your future.  You have to get it yourself. 

If you want to pursue something more, you’ve got to stay focus. 

There are too many opportunities for you to not be focused."

F-A.com:  How was your transition from high school to college.

Indira:   I started my freshman year at Indiana University of Pennsylvania

(IUP)but, I had difficulty adjusting to the environment and culturally.  I moved from Olney to Frankford when I was 10 or 11.  I lived around the corner from Harding Middle School.  I walked to Frankford everyday.  At IUP,  I could count how many black students were in my classes.  I didn't do well my first semester--classes were fast-paced, and I couldn't keep up. 

 

My second semester was better. I was able to stay on top of my grades and financial aide.  I was an independent student during my college years and was Selected for Verification. 

 

If your parent didn't provide enough financial information, then you qualified for Selected Verification.  I was a first generation college student, so I contacted Ms. Ariel of Frankford's Philadelphia Futures program and she walked me through everything.  If there was something me or my mother didn't understand, we could contact her.  

F-A.com:  How was your Temple experience?

Indira:  I transferred to Temple University my sophmore year.  It was much better.  I majored in Communications Studies with a minor in Afrocology.   My college career was different from many incoming students, I worked all through college and high school.  I attended job fairs and interned through Philadelphia Futures at Frankford, starting my freshman year in 2012.   Philadelphia Futures is a college retention program that follows you from high school through to college.  I'll be involved with them forever. 

 

My first job was a clerical position during my sophomore year, working at the Phladelphia School District (440) through it's Work Ready program.  The summer of my junior year at Frankford, I started working at Smiley's Cafe, a Middle Eastern family restaurant on Main Street.  I worked as a cook, server, bus person, whatever was needed that day, until my senior year of college.  It was a great experience. 

At Frankford, I had to work, so I didn't get involved in extracurricular activities except for one year, I was a cheerleader.  

F-A.com:  Who inspired you at Frankford?

Indira:  Mr. Huzzard in AP English, Mr. Stevens in Math.  My senior year in AP English was one of my favorite classes.  My counselor, Ms. George, helped me a lot, and Ms. Zinglefoot with AVID - Advance Individual.  Ms. Z was very encouraging and pushed me to join AVID.  She kept me on track in high school.  She was a great role model. 

 

Mr. Stevens, my math teacher, would say, "stop saying you can't do it."  I struggled with math, but he would sit down with me and help me work out the equations, until I understood it.  He saw something in me.  He knew if I kept at it--I would get it done.

 

Mr. Huzzard always wanted me to play badminton, but I had to work.  He was always encouraging me to do more.  He'd say, "I really see something in you."  He always kept us motivated, telling us what we needed to do in school and life to succeed.

 

Ms. George would tell me to go to the Ernst & Young meetings.  She pushed me to write an essay that was part of the program.  My freshman year of college I received $8,000 and $2,000 in scholarship money.  Ernst & Youg also gave students laptops.  I received two scholarships from Frankford's Futures and a stipend until I graduated.  When my computer broke, they gave me another one. 

 

I received a stipend in high school and every college semester.  As long as we did what we were expected to do academically, we received their support.  They wanted to make sure we were doing something good. 

F-A.com:  How did Frankford prepare you for adulthood?

Indira:  During my time at Frankford, we had outdated books, and teachers often passed students because they needed to pass them.  I decided early on that I wouldn't let these things determine my future.  Frankford is an underserved school, and fortunately Philadelphia Futures go into underserved schools to see if children want to go further.

Frankford's AVID program helped me academically.  At Frankford, you have to want to learn, and teachers have to see that.

F-A.com:  Describe your Temple experience.

Indira:  I majored in Communications Studies with a minor in African American Studies called Afrocology.  IUP was the first time I was the only Black student in a class.  We were talking about slavery, and everyone looked at me for answers.  I had to remind them that I was born during their time period.  What was disturbing, they were making it seem like it wasn't that bad.  We stayed on slavery two or three days, when usually we stayed on history topics for one or two weeks.

At Temple,  I would speak up, especially when the teachers spoke as if they knew the information firsthand.  They sounded so ignorant.

Temple was one of the first schools to offer an Afrocology program.

EDITOR'S NOTE:  Temple's Liberal Arts Africology and African American Studies Department is one of the oldest in the nation, and were the first to offer a doctoral program in our field. It emerged during the Black Power movement (1960s-1970s), when Black students demanded a Black studies department to combat racism, discrimination and oppression. As a result, the Afro-Asian Institute was created in 1971, and the Pan-African Studies Department was established the following year.

Indira:  At Frankford, African American Studies was taught by a white woman, Ms. Bender.  She's not the one to teach it.  A great teacher, but the course needed someone more knowledgeable.  We learned only the basics:  slavery, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass, and Rosa Parks.

At Temple, we started with ancient Africa.

F-A.com:  What are your career aspirations?  What are you currently doing?

Indira:   Currently, I have two jobs.  I'm a Substitute Teacher/Teacher's Assistant.  I wanted to put my degree to use in some way.  I also work security at the National Constitution Center.

I want to travel and see the world.  Before COVID, I was accepted into Temple's Study Abroad program, and was supposed to spend two weeks in Jamaica.  In the future, I hope to travel and document my experiances, working in African Diaspora communities.

I've done some traveling.  I went to Mexico last year, and for graduation I went to Jamaica with my best friend--as well as, Miami and Charlotte.

I also plan to put my Communications Studies degree to use.  I'm in contact with people at WHYY-TV.  Danny Miller, executive producer of WHYY-TV's Fresh Air, who I see almost everyday, told me to reach out to him.  I plan to network with more broadcast contacts and contact Temple's career center in January.  

 

F-A.com:  What is your advice to current Frankford Students? 

Indira:  Stay focused.  It's easy to get caught up in nonsense.  If you stay focused on your goals, you will get them done.  We (alumni) are living proof.  It's going to be hard, but you can do it.  Nothing good comes easy.

F-A.com:  What is your life's motto?

Indira:  Life goes on.  Whether something bad happens or not, life goes on, so act accordingly.  I learned that at a young age.

 

EDITOR'S NOTE:  Philadelphia Futures - Since its inception in 1989, the Sponsor-A-Scholar (SAS) program has provided direct services to low-income, first-generation-to-college students starting in ninth grade through college graduation and has evolved over time. SAS is a comprehensive, individualized, time-tested college access program serving promising students attending Philadelphia’s public high schools. Students matriculate in 9th grade and receive the support, resources, and opportunities they need to be admitted to and graduate from college.

 

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