The class of 2015 is nearing graduation. For students at Howard University in Washington, D.C., that day is May 9.
Seniors are excited — and they are getting antsy.
NPR's Weekend Edition has been following four of those seniors all semester: Taylor Davis, Ariel Alford, Kevin Peterman, and Leighton Watson.
This week, the four joined NPR's Rachel Martin in our D.C. studios to talk about the songs that have formed the soundtrack to their college years.
Each student brought in two songs. Click on the audio link above to hear each talk with Martin about one of their picks, or look below both full songs.
On a moment that Lauryn Hill's "Just Like Water" reminds her of
"When I was on spring break, I went to Miami. And I went to South Beach at night. And I was having this moment just by myself with God. I was just looking at the waters. I was feeling the sand and the sky and the moon. ...
"I was just so in awe of creation and it was beautiful. When you're in a place of God's presence there's just total peace. Whenever I'm going through anything crazy at Howard, because crazy things happen all the time, whenever I can just center myself and drown in God's presence, I know that things are well and all is amazing."
On why he chose gospel singer Marvin Sapp's "He Has His Hands On You"
"I chose that song because, for me, it's important to remember that through all the ups — but then also through all the downs that we've all had while we've been here, when you're at your lowest point, and you feel like there may be no one there for you, you know that God has his hands on you. I think for me that spiritual connection and consistency kind of keeps you even throughout your experience. "
On why she brought India.Arie's "Beautiful Surprise"
"In high school, I thought that maybe there was something wrong with me because I saw too many things in the world that I spoke on and no one else seemed to speak about them. And, you know, you get alienated when you speak truth — especially when you speak truth to power. So, coming out of high school I really was like, 'Yep. There's officially something wrong with me and I'm just gonna be a loner.'
"And then, you know, I got to Howard and I really met some people — Taylor included — that are just very edifying and we're on the same wavelength. We vibrate at the same frequency. And it's really dope to have people who ponder the world in the same fashion and are interested in getting free.
"This song, you can talk about romantic relationships but a lot of my platonic friendships, especially with sisters, it goes way beyond that. It's a spiritual connection, and they were essentially beautiful surprises."
On the meaning the song "A Change Is Gonna Come" has for him
"The first lines are simply 'I was born by the river,' and then he goes and he says, 'and I've been running ever since.'
"I think about growing up in conditions that were less than fortunate and then being able to be at Howard University. The privilege of a college education is something that I do not take for granted. And now moving on, I'm going to graduate school, going to Princeton. I feel like I've just been running. And it seems like somehow, some way ... what Leighton said earlier, you know, God had to have his hands on me. And it's just — I'm gonna keep running.
"I'm the first in my family to go to college. So, generations of generations who were denied an education — there are so many of them who are going to descend upon Washington, D.C., next month, simply because of its importance. I am truly the first to actually achieve this and we're all grateful."