Picture it: a beautiful, warmer than average August Monday, with the smell of a long summer in the air. The year is 2004 and I had just stepped onto the campus (“the strip” to be exact) of Southern University and A&M College, as a loquacious and optimistic freshman ready to take on the world. A unique and distinguishing feature of Southern University is that it is one of the nation’s 107 HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) and boasts being the only HBCU system in the world. It was on that campus that I would be introduced to the world that I now know as prevention by the awesome faculty in the Department of Psychology.
The reason why I didn’t know that what I was doing at the time was prevention, or even peer educator activities, was because the concepts were never presented to me in that kind of formal capacity. What was presented to me was the opportunity to care about my community and the idea of collectivism: that the success of my friends was critical to my own success and that it was a shared goal. What also was presented was the overall connectedness of substance use, sexual health, and mental health – and that they were all interconnected.