HawkStrong: Lasonia Gentle uplifts fellow graduates with commencement poem
HFC student Lasonia Gentle, who is looking forward to receiving her diploma at Commencement on Saturday, May 7, wrote a poem called "Self-Reflection." The video of Lasonia presenting her poem is at the end of this story.
“I had a dream where I was at this poetry event. Once I woke up, I began writing down the same poem I dreamed about. This poem just came to me! I knew I had to read it as part of our Commencement celebrations, because I just know it’ll motivate others. There have been times my fellow classmates and I have wanted to give up and give in, but we kept pushing because we knew internally that we can finish! We all have visions beyond graduation," said Gentle, a lifelong Detroiter. “I want people to be enlightened. I hope they catch a glimpse of this poem as a ‘magnet to the mental.’ I just want them to know the light at the end of the tunnel is not what gets them far, but it is the light they discovered within themselves that guided them. They are the ones who got themselves through. No matter the odds and struggles they may have faced, they are the ones who kept going. Everything is within.”
A desire to do more with her life
The eighth of 12 siblings, Gentle is the first daughter to graduate from college. She graduated from Frank Cody High School in Detroit in 2012. She spent the next several years working in minimum wage jobs.
“I didn’t have the opportunity to go to college directly out of high school. It was a matter of working and making sure my parents were okay. I wanted to stay close to my family,” she said. “I also wanted to do more with my life. I knew I couldn’t do it without the resources provided by a degree. I’ve been told I have a magnetic personality and a natural healing soul, so many people have thanked me for helping them get through their struggles. Words are so powerful, and I had no idea how much of an impact I have on people after speaking to them. Once I did, I knew I wanted to be a social worker and counselor, but I needed that degree and was really determined to get it.”
While she was attending HFC, both her mother and uncle passed away.
“My mom and uncle always told me how proud they were of me. Their words stuck with me, so I will honor them with gratitude, and I will smile with my head held high walking across the stage on graduation day,” she said. “My younger brother, Lamont Gentle, who graduated with honors from Michigan State University, along with the support and love from my parents and other siblings, really motivated me.”
“I love the diversity of the College”
When she decided to return to academics, Gentle used the Futures for Frontliners scholarship to attend HFC.
“HFC offered plenty of flexibility. Throughout COVID-19, HFC was actually able to work with students and still help us succeed with our classes and coursework, even though we were online,” she said. “HFC is very diverse. I love the diversity of the College. I love the quick replies from professors, the people in financial aid, registration, advising, and counseling. They’ve always been able to assist. They’ve always been there when I needed them, which is why I loved this College so much.”
During her time at HFC, she was active in the Black Male and QUEENS Focus Group.
“Lasonia intentionally walks in excellence!” said HFC sociology professor and BMQFG faculty advisor Dr. Kalvin DaRonne Harvell. “Her positive attitude and work ethic are contagious. She always shares thoughtful words of encouragement, strength, and power with the group. Her commitment to education should be used as a blueprint to guide others. We are proud of Lasonia. Her intellectual resilience is a testament to the strength and vision of our Ancestors.”
“Absolutely prepared” for her next steps
Gentle will graduate from HFC in early May, earning her associate degree in liberal arts. She also will graduate from HFC in early July, earning her second associate degree in social work and counseling. This fall, she will transfer to Wayne State University to pursue her bachelor’s degree in social work.
“I’ve always loved to help people in any way I can, and empower anyone I come in contact with,” said Gentle. “In social work, I’ll be able to provide people the resources and guidance in the direction they want to achieve.”
“I believe that Lasonia is a terrific student who has a genuine interest in the field of social work and counseling and mental health in general,” said HFC counselor Imad Nouri. “In class, she was an avid note-taker and a formidable learner and listener. I believe that Lasonia is going to make an outstanding social worker and helper. I am proud of her and excited for her transferring to Wayne State’s social work program in the fall. I am also looking forward to working with her to complete her program this summer.”
HFC Associate Dean of Counseling Ibrahim Atallah agreed with Nouri. He said it was a “great joy” to have her in class.
“She is the type of student that faculty hope to see in their classes,” said Atallah. “Her dedication, commitment, and perseverance in accomplishing her academic goals were inspiring to her classmates. I wish her all the best.”
“The College absolutely prepared me for my next steps," said Gentle. "I know I’ll be able to succeed because of the courses I took here at the College, and the inspirational conversations I’ve had with everyone at HFC.”
“Self-Reflection,” a poem for HFC 2022 graduates
Lasonia Gentle granted HFC permission to share her poem publicly.