Black History Month: Having Faith in the Future

Like many first-generation students, college has been trial and error for Nadia Hill. Changing her major from broadcast journalism to higher education has allowed her sense of purpose to guide her throughout her academic experience. Hill infuses her passion for advocacy into her work with students, making sure they are supported and uplifted. She’s been able to work in the educational field, transferring her skills to her internship at the University of Alabama during the summer of 2023, as well as presenting at a conference on Racial Battle Fatigue. Everything Hill does is inspired by her experiences from the South and for the betterment of her community.

“I'm a first-generation student. Grad school has been something that I've had to kind of learn on my own because I don't have a lot of guidance with it. But I feel like UNT has so many resources and I love my program,” Hill said. “It's been enjoyable to kind of navigate it and help other students. My dad is older and I was predominantly raised by him. I think I like to think of grad school as something that I'm doing for all of us. I think it's a shared accomplishment.”

Hill has a huge community of aunts and uncles who help support her through her journey. They guide her at a distance in East Texas, but sometimes, Nadia makes the drive back home to stay in touch with her roots.

“I am from East Texas, a little town called Tatum. It doesn't even have a stoplight. It has a four-way that you kind of have to stop and roll through. Everybody knows everybody. It’s a community that I feel like you don't get in bigger areas,” Hill said. “So I'm thankful for where I grew up. I feel like I still have a lot of support from the people that I grew up with, whether they're adults or peers. Everybody still is in touch.”

Coming from a small town has not limited Hill’s dreams or point of view. If anything, The College of Education at UNT has helped expand Hill’s academic journey, as well as provide a plan for her career post-grad. Professors like Dr. Tran-Parsons have helped her navigate her college experience, as well as be beacons of inspiration for her.

“The faculty and staff, especially the people within the higher education department are phenomenal. I feel like professors pour into me, especially Dr. Tran-Parsons. I would say the staff, the faculty, and then also the resources, along with them willing to help is important,” Hill said.

During her time at University of Alabama, Hill utilized her skills as an intern. Through a long, competitive interview process, Nadia Hill was chosen to enter into the college program and incorporate her passion for diversity and inclusion into the program.

“With my internship in Alabama, one of the things about going there was that Alabama is a predominantly white institution. But my orientation team was predominantly Black. But once I got there and had to do the work, it was so fulfilling because they needed me,” Hill said. “They thought that I put out fires for everything that might have been going wrong on the team. I feel like in that capacity that wasn't a DEI role. But I had to do that work in that role. And I think that kind of proved to me that I can do that work no matter where I'm at. That's the path that I need to take over the next few years.”

Soon after her internship, Hill had the opportunity to present on racial battle fatigue. Hill completed an assignment on the subject as part of a cultural tourism class.She was later given an opportunity to present at a conference. Hill was accepted, and excited to present her new toolkit of knowledge. But instead of presenting in front of her student peers who are in the same class together, now she was presenting in front of professionals.

“My experience [in summer 2023] was something that I was able to draw from because I feel like racial battle fatigue was something that me and my students all experienced being in Tuscaloosa. You have all of these different white students coming in. My team of Black students had to deal with being treated differently and so it was tiring for all of us,” Hill said. “I was able to tie some of that into my presentation and explain what it was like to work with students who also experienced this. I feel like that position just changed my outlook on how you show up for your students when you're tired as well.”

In the thick of drastic changes, she has had unwavering faith in her future. Her trust in her destiny remains unshakable. She knows her footsteps are ordered, and that every moment is divinely orchestrated to help her make an impact on those around her.

“I think sometimes we are hard on ourselves. So we don't see the things that we're actually doing well and bring to the table,” Hill said. “I'm very much [thinking that] God can take me anywhere. I feel like I'm not in control of my path. I'm just following the steps of what He lays out for me.”