By DANIELLE GRAHAM
The typical college senior is somewhere between 21 and 24 years old, affiliated with a number of groups, and regarded as lucky for getting close to graduation.
On the surface, Trikarri Bates fits this stereotype, but in an environment where everyone knows exactly what comes next, she is quite uncertain about her future. If you ask her what her plans are after graduation, her answer may come as a surprise.
“I don’t know. Maybe this week I’ll flirt with the possibility of applying as an entry level copy editor somewhere,” said Bates jokingly as she shrugs and fixes her green dress. For the Kennesaw State University senior this is a routine answer, but her life has been anything but.
Bates, who is a Shreveport, La., native, was born at 1 pound, 8 ounces. According to doctors, the only problem worse than being born this premature, was living. Bates was so small that if she lived past 3 years old, it would be considered a miracle.
“My mother has told me stories about how the nurses nicknamed me Little Worm in the hospital. I was so tiny, but squirmed around so much,” Bates said. “You don’t really have a grasp or concept of much when you’re a baby, but from what I’ve heard, I was determined to fight.”
And fight she did, beating the seemingly impossible odds.
An Uprooted Life
She has had quite a journey along the way, including uprooting from all of her friends in Louisiana and moving to Italy, then moving away from her mother and stepfather to live with her aunt in Georgia – only to leave all of her newly formed friends in Georgia behind as she went to high school in South Carolina. She gets emotional when reflecting on what she’s gone through in her life, but smiles when talking about embarking on what she considers to be the biggest journey of her life – graduating college.
“When I started this thing, I never knew it would take me so long,” said the 24-year-old communication major. “However, I’m just glad I never gave up.”
Not giving up has paid off tremendously. As the oldest grandchild on her mother’s side of the family, she will be the first to graduate from college and set the example for all the rest of her cousins. Seventeen of them to be exact. On her father’s side, while not the oldest grandchild, she will be the only one with a four-year degree. When asked if that breeds any animosity in other family members she smiles and shakes her head.
“No, at least not that I know of,” she said. At the end of the day I have a really strong support system. My family really has my back and that is what is important.”
A Large Extended Family
When she says “family” she means more than just immediate and extended. Bates’ “family” consists of friends she has made from school, work and in her sororities. She is a member of both Gamma Sigma Sigma National Service Sorority and Omega Phi Alpha National Service Sorority at KSU. Her reasoning for joining was very simple.
“I wanted to be a part of something that I felt did more than make me look good,” said Bates. “All of my life, most of the conversation and commotion was about me, because I was the only child; the only grandchild on my mom’s side for five years; and the only female grandchild on my dad’s side for four months. I’ve been so used to being taken care of that I decided that it was time to take care of others.”
The sororities give her a sense of goodwill, charity, and leadership. She holds an executive board position in Gamma Sigma Sigma, and has many friends and acquaintances on campus, with five stopping to say hello while on their way to class within the first seven minutes of this interview. She gives advice as though she is well beyond her years when she says “you have to be good to people, in order for people to be good to you, because you never know who can do what for you.”
Referring back to the original question of future plans, Bates says she plans on either starting or joining a lifestyle management consulting company here in Atlanta.
“Even though it’s a different type of help that you’re giving to people; when it’s all said and done you’re helping people reach their full potential, and that makes them feel good about working with you,” said Bates. “And you get to feel good about yourself knowing that you made a difference.”
It’s the little things, like service, that makes her feel as if she has served her purpose well in a life that could’ve ended up so different 24 years ago.