Student walks away from scholarship mid semester at TSU to transfer to Southern, says his heart wasn’t thereMarch 7, 2017 10 By congotvnetwork
When a student graduates High School, it’s an honor to be accepted by any college. That may be true for most students but not if you grew up dreaming to play in the band at one specific university.
“I used to use the pots and pans in the kitchen as my drums and I’d put a towel in the back of my shirt to pretend it was my cape. I would march around the house like I was in the Human Jukebox.” According to Terry Lee, being in Southern’s Band (commonly called the Human Juekebox) has been one of his life goals but when he graduated High School he only received a scholarship to Texas Southern University.
“I did what was right but I didn’t follow my heart,” he says. Lee took the scholarship to Texas Southern because it would save his family money and he respected Texas Southern as a great institution of higher learning. “It is a great school and I felt if these people cared enough to grant me money to attend their college I should at least be grateful and get my education there.”
Lee, a New Orleans native, was a member of the prestigious St. Augustine High School “Marching 100” Band. In Louisiana, St. Augustine High School’s Band has been one of the most respected High School Bands in the state for decades. The band’s reputation lingers around the country in the light of a college band. Students who join St. Augustine’s band usually go on to be leaders of whatever college band they join then on to becoming professional musicians. It’s in the water in New Orleans. Music is life.
“When I was at TSU the professors were great and the school was great but my heart wasn’t there. I felt myself becoming easily distracted. I joined the band at Texas Southern but it’s hard to learn their style when you have spent your whole life learning the style of another band. I respect TSU but I couldn’t really feel their drum technique,” he said.
High School drummers idolize college drum lines. Go to any black High School band and you’ll find the percussionists are inspired by a black college band. “For me, it was Southern before I even got to High School,” Terry says.
By mid-semester 2016, Terry informed all who supported him that he wouldn’t be continuing his college education at Texas Southern University. “I wasn’t helping TSU and I definitely wasn’t helping myself by being somewhere unhappy. My professors at TSU encouraged me to follow my heart and my family told me they would figure out how to make it work,” he explains.
“I know what Heaven feels like. I felt it when I walked on Southern’s campus,” he recalls with a great big smile on his face. “When I stepped foot on this campus it felt like home.” Terry has a 2.7 GPA, majoring in Biology. “Math is my strongest subject. Biology is challenging but I’m a St. Aug man. We don’t run from challenges. Being at Southern has motivated me to go harder in every area of my life now.”
When he enrolled at Southern, immediately his friends from back home who had enrolled at Southern teased him. “Man, they down bad for how they teased me,” he said with a laugh. “They all told me I should have never followed money. I should have followed my heart to begin with.” The love and the family he has made at Southern came almost immediately. More importantly, a few leaders were able to help him get a Tops Scholarship and a LA Grant to cover his tuition. “God has His hands in this because where I felt I would lack, it has all come together.”
Terry says his High School didn’t only prepare him for college. “Most schools just get you ready for college. Bruh, St. Aug has you ready for college in the 9th grade. By the time I got to my senior year, I was beyond knowing what college I was going to. I knew where I wanted to be in life period. St. Aug doesn’t just get you ready for college. It prepares you for the world. It made me a better person,” he says about his former High School in New Orleans.
Lee says St. Augustine High School is very disciplined. “I grew up watching Southern’s band tapes on Youtube and hearing stories about how disciplined you have to be to play in the Jukebox. I came here expecting a challenge but St. Aug definitely prepared me for it,” he says.
He joined Southern’s band immediately but could not perform due to the football season being close to completion. “My heart dropped at the Bayou Classic. I was supposed to be out there contributing to my band. I waited all my life for that. I wasted a lot of time last semester but it only motivated me to start next year on fire. My family will most definitely see me at the Bayou Classic on that field in the Superdome next year,” he said with a blast of excitement. “Nothing is gonna stop me from wearing my cape!”
While college is usually a personal journey, it’s different for Terry. “I’m not doing this for myself. I’m doing this for my whole family.” Terry is the first person in his entire family to go to college.
“I am the first in my family but I won’t be the last.”
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