Ya’Nassia Whetstone’s journey is nothing less than inspiring. She is unafraid of obstacles and is always driven to do whatever it takes to achieve her goals. With her work ethic and communication skills, Ya’Nassia has always been equipped to work around any challenging situation.
In high school she consistently stayed busy by participating in numerous activities that promoted her admirable sense of courage, which included being selected to travel to Colombia and serving as an Audible Intern. As a student who was consistently on honor roll and taking the most rigorous AP courses, Ya’Nassia was all set and ready to apply to her number one school choice, Howard University. Unfortunately, affordability became a major theme amongst her college choices, so she then had to pivot and select another institution. Ya’Nassia knew that applying early decision to a full need school would be her best approach. Having a strong desire to go to college in Washington D.C. led her to consider George Washington University as an ideal option. It was still in an urban and transient setting and within proximity of other amazing institutions, including Howard, so she would at least get to occasionally pass through campus.
However, Ya’Nassia took heed of her college counselor’s suggestion to consider another university in the D.C area since it had less seniors applying to it and was of the same caliber as her other preferred institutions. The school was more removed from the center of the city, it was further away from the other campuses, and had significantly less students of color in attendance. Ya’Nassia trusted the process and respectfully didn’t’ push back or express significant concerns about the option. Despite knowing in her gut that this institution met few of her social “non-negotiables,” she took the risk of applying to a school that she would have to “learn to love.”
Ya’Nassia did everything she was supposed to do to make the most of her experience by taking above the minimum credits, demonstrating strong study habits, applying to campus jobs, and attending campus events. Despite participating in BSU and their “Sister to Sister” organization, Ya’Nassia felt a persistent dissonance that her school choice wasn’t the replacement she was hoping for. “When you know… you know…”
Ya’Nassia earning A & Bs at the time, set herself up to take the big leap. She applied and was accepted to GW as a transfer student! Ya’Nassia was incredibly excited about enrolling at one of her original top choices for the upcoming semester and then… COVID hit. Like many students, Ya’Nassia returned home to New Jersey and had to navigate through online courses while, yet again, not gaining the true campus experience that she worked towards and yearned for.
Once the pandemic restrictions were lifted and she was allowed to finally return to D.C., new challenges arose as she attempted to meet new people and get established on campus. When attempting to join a “certain organization”, it became clear that she needed to first find ways to get involved. Besides participating in Inroads, an internship pathway program and being asked to recite poetry at an African Student Association event, Ya’Nassia decided to take a huge social risk and created her own organization. As the Founder and President of Hairapeutic Beauty, she held executive board meetings and general body meetings to host hands-on tutorials for students of color. They demonstrated how adopting various hairstyles could help attendees feel more confident in a predominantly white institution. Ya’Nassia’s true moment of vindication came when her humble attempt to make a mark on campus later materialized into a groundbreaking “Hairitage Showcase.” Students from multiple college communities were able to benefit from Ya’Nassia’s vision and labor as they learned and discussed methods to care for their kinks, coils, and curls. Her organization collaborated with other colleges in D.C, including George Mason and (you guessed it!) Howard University. Having amassed over 400 followers on Instagram, Hairapeutic Beauty is now an official safe space that future GW students could participate and benefit from.
Ya’Nassia’s story proves that any dream worth having is absolutely worth working hard for. When asked about the advice she would share with others who are considering transferring, she responded, “Starting over is scary, but staying in an environment where you don’t belong or have little to no room to grow is terrifying. It’s not going to be comfortable, so please don’t expect it to be. You may have to make new friends, take rigorous classes, or extend yourself a little more than you’re used to. Use this time to get an idea of what you want, who you want to become, and make a plan to execute. Your college experience is everything you make it out to be- remember: “You are the master of your own destiny.”
Thank you Ya’Nassia for leaving your impact, we can’t wait to see what you will accomplish next!