Haynes ’14 reflects on her experience with SOBHU and how it has given her a piece of New York in Waterville

unnamed-1The students and faculty on the Hill are well aware of the Pugh Center and what it tries to do in order to better our environment. But do they know about the people behind the scenes that plan who eye-opening events? Do they know who is passionate about making this institution better? One of the most prominent forces in the Pugh Center is Tionna Haynes ’15. Haynes is the President of Students Organized for Black and Hispanic Unity (SOBHU) for the second straight year and has been involved with the club since her first year at the College. During her sophomore year, she decided to join the Board of SOBHU and became Co-Chair of Communications. The next year she was voted President of the club. “What keeps me coming back and working as hard as I do is seeing the smiles on peoples’ faces when they are enjoying a program the board and I have put together,” she said. “My motivation behind my work is to see people enlightened and elated during an event.”

Haynes is from New York City, and she cites her hometown as the reason she joined SOBHU. She said, “I wanted something familiar to what I was used to at home. I knew I could feel comfortable being in a small town at a predominantly white institution in Maine, but I wanted to be a part of a club where I could stay connected with my blackness.”

Haynes is also a member of the dance club Vuvuzela, which caught her interest after she decided to study abroad in Ghana. “After taking a Ghanaian dance class when I was abroad last Spring… I wanted to continue being connected to the African culture, dance and people,” she said. “I hope the leaders know how much joy I feel being a member.”

After graduation, Haynes would like to pursue a career in education. “In Kindergarten, I said I wanted to be a teacher after my WNBA career was over. My basketball days are over, but I want to teach in an urban city—hopefully, at home in New York City,” she said.

Regarding her busy schedule, Haynes said, “By senior year, you learn your best ways of studying, how to study and work efficiently, and to skim.”

She recalls several times throughout her time here at Colby that she would wear sweatpants to classes, signifying that she was riding the “struggle bus.” “If you ever see me with sweatpants on, I may be struggling,” she said. Haynes mentioned how she adapted to the intense workload that she has been dealt here at Colby, saying, “When the pressure is on, it’s nothing to stay up to 3 a.m. and wake up at 9 a.m. for work or to do an all-nighter.”

Haynes offered some advice for underclassmen here on the Hill:“Colby was a challenging new environment for me my first year. When something is challenging and new, you can either adapt or let the pressure crush you…. Colby forced and still forces me to be a better version of myself.”

“I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone, expanded my knowledge base, learned to speak up, tried new things, made tons of mistakes, learn[ed] from those mishaps, and became a better leader. I know myself much better than I did when I first came to the Hill. And when you know yourself and become comfortable with your flaws and virtues, no one can tell you otherwise. Colby allowed me to find myself and be me,” said Haynes.

Haynes’ most important piece of advice was, “appreciate the people who love you….Don’t try to change yourself, deal with someone else’s bullsh*t, or feel like you are unappreciated for someone who can’t see the potential already inside of you.”

“Between COOT, dorm events, and the clubs you join, you will be able to ‘separate the wheat from the chaff’ (Psalm 1) and end up with a good group of friends to hold you down.”

Haynes’ biggest message for her peers is to get involved and to find yourself the same way that she did. Haynes said that college is not easy for anyone, but if you surround yourself with the right people, then you are only helping yourself.

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