CTK Grad and College Freshman Gaining Independence and Confidence

Like CTK’s current students, the pandemic has also forced our alumni on college campuses throughout the country to shift to remote learning for the remainder of the school year. We caught up with recent CTK grad, Nykeshia Dunford ’19 at her home to discuss her freshman year experience at Xavier University of Louisiana.

While her first-year college experience has been bumpy at times, it has helped Nykeshia to become more independent and reinforced her desire to pursue a career in medicine. She didn’t really consider attending Xavier until the 2nd semester of her senior year at the encouragement of College Counselor, Mr. Zundel, and after meeting with a Xavier representative at CTK.  She eventually selected it as her college choice due to its smaller size, its status as the only Catholic Historically Black College or University, and for graduating the most African-Americans who go on to complete medical school.

She admitted that moving so far from her family and having to fully fend for herself was difficult at first.  She eventually grew more confident in her independence and decision-making, as she formed a strong support network with her roommate from Washington, DC, and classmates from other parts of the country.  She also adjusted to the academic rigors of being a Bio Chemistry, Pre-med major. She has learned to take advantage of available resources, ask for help when needed, and make her studies a priority over the social activities that are readily available in New Orleans. She credits her time at CTK and CWSP experience at FINRA and Equity Residential with helping her learn to manage her time and interact with a diverse group of people. Nykeshia has also continued to be a woman for others by continuing with community service started at CTK through the local Red Cross.

Of course, her routine changed dramatically in early March. She went home, and then had to return to campus to move out of her dorm room when the school was closed for the remainder of the year. Her six online classes, some of which include science labs, are at the same time daily as when she attended them live.  She is adjusting, but finds it “tougher to learn while staring at a screen all day.”  She appreciates the opportunity to be home with her mother and younger brother. Just a year ago she was finishing up her senior year at CTK. She mentioned that she feels for the current CTK seniors, but shared some advice. “You all have great futures ahead of you. Enjoy your time with your family, because you won’t have that next year. Trust in God that it will all work out in the end.”