Albany State University junior Carmen Nicholson is on a roll. Since her arrival on campus two years ago, the 20 year old has earned straight A’s for three consecutive semesters. By graduation in 2013, the goal is a clean sweep. Journalist and Assistant Vice President of Institutional Advancement Vickie Oldham wanted to learn more about the focused and spiritually centered Fort Valley, Ga. resident whose drive to achieve began in preschool at Pittman Street Kindergarten and followed her throughout high school and college.
You’re a straight A student. Help readers understand how you became interested in achieving high marks in school.
I graduated number five in a high school class of 300. My parents instilled in me the benefits of hard work. They knew that success was in my future. That’s why I do what I have to do, especially when we’re paying money for tuition. I want to be successful, so I know I’m not playing in school.
Have you been a high achiever since kindergarten?
As a child, my momma always read to me and helped with my homework. She was one of those ‘old school’ mommas checking my book bag before I’d walk in the door. My parents were always there. Growing up, I was in the honors gifted program and a program called CDEP for engineering, science and math at Fort Valley State University. I took college courses and earned 13 credits while in high school.
I hung with friends in preschool (we’re still friends). All of them are on the honor’s list and graduated with honors. Our parents instilled in us the same thing. Their parents were similar to mine.
Describe your study habits? What does it take to be a 4.0 student?
It takes a lot of concentration. A lot (she places emphasis on the word) of concentration. You’ve got to have your priorities straight and be very focused. I missed out on a lot of things during my freshman year because I had my mind set on achieving a 4.0. If there was a basketball game I wanted to go to and a test the next day; I studied. You prioritize.
Don’t you get tired of studying and actually want some distractions?
Yes, I do. It’s hard to hold down a job and be in a lot of organizations and stay focused. You can get distracted easily, but prioritizing is a must.
Education is a privilege. [There was a time when African-Americans] couldn’t learn as we can now. We didn’t have the right to read. Some of us take education for granted. We’re given the opportunity now to learn. I want to do that.
What do you do at ASU for fun?
During the week, there is no fun. On weekends, I like to chill with my friends, go shopping, to the movies, and get my nails and hair done. I like campus events because they bring us together.
Why did you decide to attend an HBCU?
I decided that I needed to be with people I knew and who knew me. I didn’t think I’d get the same care anywhere else. I would’ve been viewed as another number. ASU knows me by my name. They care about me and who I am.
What is it about ASU that you love so much?
I love ASU because it’s a home away from home (just to be honest). Everyone asks why I didn’t go to Fort Valley State. It’s because I’m from Fort Valley. I needed new scenery and new faces. I chose an HBCU that reminded me of home.
What are you aspiring to be?
A child psychiatrist. I want to study the behaviors of children. I love kids. They’re easy to be around and talk to. I want to help them with their problems so they’ll focus on education and not what’s happening at home.
After graduating from ASU, then what?
I plan to graduate in 2013 with a 4.0, then go for my master’s and doctorate at the same time. It’s called a “bridge to the doctorate” program. I’m exploring the universities that offer the most in scholarships.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
I will be 30. Ten years from now, I’ll have all of my degrees, own a private practice in child psychiatry and own a day care center for under privileged children in the city of Atlanta. I’ll also be married with two children. That’s my dream.