Cheyney University Blog

The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

November 02, 2011

So often,  like other Americans, I  have stood with my hand over my heart and sung the words of our national anthem placing special emphasis on the words "for the land of the Free and the home of the Brave."

Also,  undoubtedly,  though most of us stand proudly when we sing the Star-Spangled Banner," the song ushers forth a range of diverse memories, dreams, and expectations in current day Americans  who have emerged, one way or another, from a nation that was built by  diverse immigrants.  Nonetheless, as a nation, we  are still defining Freedom.  I often wonder—just how does defining and defending freedom relate to our daily lives?

As I come to grips with another birthday, watch the developing millennium generation,  and imagine America in 2052, I have definite hopes and dreams that we will truly build a nation that is free to care about each other.  I hope we are building a nation of people who are courageous enough to fight for the tenets in which our nation was built.  I also hope we build a nation that cares about the development of personal character and the well-being and security of the least of us.

Before you go there, I am not naive.   Steeled by the broad shoulders of Chicago where I was prepared for a life of the mind  and  nestled by the dreams of my southern, and depression era, mom-- I think I see us for what we are.

I  see our possibilities for altruism, our potential  for more  innovation, and our genius that could be employed to tackle the intractable problems  that were once conceptualized by Nelson's book, The Moon and the Ghetto (1977).

I guess that is why I enjoy higher education-- especially higher education at Cheyney University.  In many respects our students, most of whom are first generation students arrive on campus as survivors of  K-12 systems that were not really designed with them in mind.  These students arrive on campus as immigrants to a new, broader, and more complex world with a depth and scope they could not imagine before arriving.  The transition into an academic environment that prepares for a more independent and ambiguous global work  environment is daunting for many students-- even those who come with a quest to live the American ideals.

What we hope to do through programs such as  the University College, athletics, the Keystone Honors College, and our STEM scholars is to acclimate these students through their affinities to a world of possibilities.  Moreover,  through student engagement activities which include leadership seminars, introduction to American s/heroes, internships, and mentorships, we hope to grow some resilient Americans who will proudly move forth with their hands over their hearts representing the land of the free and the home of the brave.   We owe them that!


Michelle Howard-Vital, Ph.D.
Cheyney University

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