By: Skyler Johnson
On July 5th, 2021, the Revlon Creme of Nature “Legacy to Leadership” scholarship inaugural winners were announced. The scholarship was meant to provide funding to students attending HBCUs, or historically black colleges and universities. I had the privilege of interviewing one of the students who received the scholarship: Mariah Pearson, who’s currently attending North Carolina A&T State University.
How important is it for you to attend an HBCU?
It was personally extremely important for me because I feel as though a lot of times, in society, people of color, don’t exactly get the opportunities as other people would and I feel that at my HBCU and at other HBCUs across the country were given those opportunities. We’re given resources to better navigate, better operate in the real world… in corporate America and professional settings. It also provided me with a community of people who have similar backgrounds as me and similar interests as me. It’s awesome to go to one.
What is your favorite thing about college thus far?
So far my favorite thing about college would probably be the environment, the way my school feels like a family, and how you can meet new people and it doesn’t feel awkward to introduce yourself. [Talking to a stranger at school] kind of feels like you’re talking to someone you’ve known forever. That’s probably my favorite part, just feeling like I’m at home when I’m not at home.
Briefly, can you go over what you expect to gain out of college?
Of course to get a degree. And learn how to operate in professional settings, but also just for personal development. I feel that going to college has opened a bunch of doors and there’s a bunch of opportunities for new experiences that you might not get if you don’t go to college. Knowing who I am and what I like, who I want to be, how I want to grow, the direction I want to grow in. I definitely feel that college helps you figure that out really quickly.
What’re the most important lessons you’ve learned thus far?
There’s a couple. One of them is definitely: always be on your Ps and Qs, because somebody’s always watching, and you don’t know who’s watching or when, but… somebody’s always seeing you. That’s one of them. Another one is always try and surround yourself with people who you want to see yourself as. You can’t become a winner if you’re not in a group of winners. You can’t be a leader if you’re not in a group of leaders. So it’s important that you surround yourself with people who feed into you positively and of course hold you to a standard that you would hold yourself to. I think those are the main lessons that I’ve learned so far, and I’m sure there are plenty more to come.
What made you want to get into health care?
So I’m going into physical therapy, and when I was first trying to figure out where I was going to go to school and what I was going to go for I… [didn’t] really know… But as an athlete, who had to experience going through physical therapy, I was like, “I kinda like sports, I kinda like helping people, so let’s find a way to mix the two.” And physical therapy is what came up… I later began to grow a love for it through learning how the healthcare system operates, and of course how it treats different people. Because I personally know that being a black woman I’m going to experience a different type of healthcare than anyone else would. Especially since I had family [members] who had gone through physical therapy and had different medical procedures done and they felt that they hadn’t been treated the way they should’ve been, or wanted, to be treated. [Which is why] one of my goals as a health care professional in the future would definitely be to make people feel more comfortable and cared for and appreciated as a patient.
Do you expect to change the world?
Yes, I do. In some way, shape, or form I will [change the world], because another one of my goals as a physical therapist is to establish a [holistic] health care system. [I would not just] tap into the physical but also into the mental state, [asking] how [a patient’s] feeling, [if they were] eating, [if they were] exercising. I’m going to establish a facility where I take care of the whole person and not just say, “oh you’re sick, here’s some medicine.” Personally I’m not a big fan of medication which is why I chose physical therapy, because you’re essentially healing your own body by yourself. There’s no needles, there’s no medicine. It’s purely you moving your body and [exploring] how movement can essentially create a better lifestyle for you.
How excited were you when you received the Revlon HBCU scholarship?
I cried, when I found out, I was so… thankful to Creme of Nature for this scholarship. It’s something that I definitely needed at the time. When I went through the process of figuring out what scholarship I was gonna apply for, and what bubble I fit in, with the scholarship world, they popped up and I [was] like, “this is perfect, this is awesome,” because I [could] make a video explaining who I [was] and what I [wanted] to do and what I [was] passionate about… It [was] purely me telling them about how I really feel about where I want to be in life, and my profession… so it was incredible. I cried. I called my mom. I called everybody.