BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, has a small motto that holds a monumental meaning: “A Choice to Change the World.”

Centennial High School graduate and west Baltimore native Kendra Grissom certainly plans to do exactly that. She always knew she wanted to attend an historically black college and was inspired to follow through by her older sister.

“[My sister] attended Morgan State and I saw her HBCU experience and I wanted my own,” Grissom shared.

From Coppin Heights to southwest Atlanta, Grissom made her choice to change the world.

“I chose Spelman in particular after visiting during my freshman year of high school and after absolutely falling in love with the school, it just felt like I belonged there,” she beamed.

Her sense of belonging intersected her love and desire for education and Black history. But she knew her transition from high school would require a dedicated balance between academics and extra-curricular.

“I think when I first got to Spelman, I was really nervous about my adjustment into a collegiate setting, and I questioned if I was prepared for the rigor of college,” Grissom said.

Undaunted by the fight, Grissom manifested her academic goals—writing out a list of goals. With sheer determination, she maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout her matriculation.

“When it happened, I was shocked,” she laughed.

Like a true Spelman woman, Grissom is already onto the next dream. She is returning home to Baltimore to pursue her PhD at Johns Hopkins in the fall. She holds dreams of giving other students the same educational and cultural enrichment that Spelman gave to her.

She hopes, one day she can do it as a Morgan State University professor, using policy and positionality to inspire others.

“I would love to help build a bridge between P12 education and higher education,” she said. “Working with social studies teachers helping to develop a diverse history curriculum where all students see themselves reflected. Most importantly, I want to teach black history and serve as mentor to my students and be the same inspiration that my professors were to me. [I realized] that the history we’re taught is very Eurocentric and male centered, and the importance of amplifying the voices of marginalized people. Our history matters, we contributed to this country. We were here.”

Although she has not delivered her commencement address just yet, Grissom is not without wisdom.

“Don’t shrink yourself to fit into people’s limited expectations of who and what you can be or what you should be,” she said.

Humbled to be named valedictorian for the Spelman College Class of 2020, and motivated to continue her mission toward scholar and community, Grissom is confident that attending the top-rated HBCU in the nation, was the best choice she could’ve made to change the world.

“It’s a bittersweet departure because Spelman has been home to me for the last four years. It’s been a healing space for me. It’s been a place full of love, it’s expanded my horizons,” she smiled.

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