HBCU Grambling State Student To Attend Columbia University, Fulfilling Dying Mother’s Wish

by April 14, 2021

Ayeisha Gipson, a graduating senior at Gambling State University, has endured an almost unimaginable reality over the last few years. The San Diego, CA. native faced the possibility that her seriously ill mother would not survive – and would never see her graduate from college.

“As bad as I prayed and helped with any medical procedures she went through, she was dying,” she said. “Each semester I came home, it progressed. I struggled to find peace about it while smiling on campus to maintain a front. “

Gipson’s mother passed away in March 2021 leaving her with this advice: “You’re going to have to keep going because time doesn’t stop,” she said. “I lived my life, now you live your own life.”

Gipson took her mother’s words to heart. Even though it feels as if a part of her is missing, she intends to live out her dreams. After graduating from Grambling State with a degree in history, she will pursue a master of arts in higher and post-secondary education at Columbia University in New York.

“My mother worked in education for my whole life until she got ill and retired,” she said. “I’ve watched my mother help college students or anyone who needed help, specifically with homework, and/or employment opportunities. I want to be like her.”

Her goal is to begin a career where she can serve students – especially those who are like her. Raised by a single mom, she grew up in a tough neighborhood in San Diego. Gipson started college when she was well into her 20s and needed help to pay for it.

What started as a discussion about scholarships with a GSU alum and fellow San Diego resident turned into a lesson in paying it forward. Virginia business owner Jeff Motem said that, during that conversation, he was struck by Gipson’s honesty, maturity, and determination.

“I know where she’s from,” he said, adding that he decided to regularly help out with some of her college expenses. “If you’re taking care of your business, I’m going to keep investing in you,” he told her.

It came down to the fact that he had help along the way, Moten said, and he wanted to give back.

“We all need help,” he said. “We all need mentors and guidance.”

Gipson did not disappoint. She excelled academically as well as in service.

While at GSU, she was active in Kappa Delta Pi (International Honor Society in Education), vice president of the Grambling chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and associate justice and chief justice of the Student Government Association. She was also a contributing writer for The Gramblinite newspaper.

Gipson said she has mixed emotions as she prepares to graduate.

“I am a bit nervous because I am really going to be on my own, transitioning to NYC. However, I am happy – looking forward to a new chapter “

She said she is looking forward to growth and opportunities at Columbia. “I want to be able to connect Grambling students with Columbia University and introduce them to opportunities applicable to them.” 

Gipson compares her college journey to The Wiz or The Wizard of Oz.

“Dorothy was determined to get to Oz. Yes, she faced challenges, learned from them, and met people along her journey,” she explained. “At the end, she made it to Oz. That’s my story. I went through tough times but learned a lesson out of it and made It to my destination. I met amazing people along the way.”

Gipson said she’s thankful to everyone who has helped and supported her along the way to completing her degree.

“I want to thank my professors, cafeteria workers, and even maintenance for being there for me when times were difficult,” she said, explaining that she often spent long hours on classwork at the Tiger Den. “They were so nice to me and allowed me to handle my business because I didn’t have a laptop at the time, so I thank them. “

“I also want to tell students that it doesn’t ma

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