Edmit scholarship finalist Byria Hamblin has big plans: finish her undergraduate degree at Tulane, go to law school, and become a public defender. She recently spoke with the Edmit team about her personal college journey.
Edmit: Tell us your story about your college process—where are you studying and when will you be graduating?
Byria: I just finished my associate degree at Lone Star College, it’s a small community college in northwest Houston. I’m transferring right now to Tulane University in New Orleans. I’ll be finishing my undergrad there, graduating in the spring of 2020.
I visited Tulane in 2014; I was in the New Orleans area and I had friends that went there, and they said “come look at Tulane.” I immediately fell in love with it, the campus really feels very New Orleans, which is a city I already was so in love with.... I got to know that they have an incredible poli sci department, an incredible history department, all these professors that I so looked up to and wanted to meet.
When I applied [to Tulane] during high school, I didn’t get in, and I didn’t think about it: I just thought, ‘you know what, whatever, it’s not a big deal, I got into all these other schools.’ I was going to go to the University of Oklahoma to pursue [a degree in] journalism and history, and then things didn’t work out. My financial aid didn’t go well, and I ended up staying home and going to community college.
When it was time to transfer, I thought ‘I’ll apply just to see if I would get in [to Tulane].’ I was like a 3.9 [GPA] student, I thought it might happen. Then, when I got in, I thought, ‘I have to go, I can’t turn it down.’
Edmit: It’s interesting that you took a delayed gratification approach—that at the end of the day, you’re going to get your degree from Tulane, and nobody’s going to know that you took an unconventional path to get there.
Byria: Exactly, I didn’t even realize how sticking to it really worked out.
Edmit: Can you share how you’ll be financing your college education?
Byria: Yes, of course. I was offered a couple scholarships, but they didn’t really meet the ginormous tuition fee that is Tulane, so I ended up taking out [student] loans. I maxed out all of my federal loans, and I am taking out some private loans as well...If I get the Edmit scholarship, I’ll use it to cover textbooks.
Edmit: You mentioned on your Edmit scholarship application that you’re hoping to go to law school and eventually become a public defender. Tell us a little bit about why this interests you and your future career plans.
Byria: Growing up, I had a family friend who was a lawyer and it kind of felt like, as a kid, what being a real superhero was like. They were actually changing things and working for the ACLU, and I really looked up to that family friend. Over time, I fell in love with politics and public service, and I knew I needed to go to law school--and if I didn’t do it I would really regret it. Once I got into Tulane, I thought, ‘you know what, I’m going to do it now.’
Edmit: Any advice for other students on the college application and financial aid process?
Byria: I would just say be really patient! [laughs] It feels like they’re waiting forever to hear back and it feels like it takes forever to finish all of the paperwork, but at the end of the day it’s so worth it. Just take the time and always be aware of what’s going on, but at the same time know it’s a marathon and be patient with the process.
Congratulations again, Byria!