“My senior year of high school, things really changed a lot for me. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go to college and I was thinking of taking a gap year. Throughout high school, I sometimes had trouble feeling I belonged, but my senior year I started to connect with people, and I found a group of friends, and I found my best friend. That was a stressful year. But it was still great to meet those people. I had problems with confidence and insecurity, and a really big moment in my life that year was when I flew on a plane by myself to visit a college I was looking into. At that moment, I was already planning on going to Radford, but I kind of wanted to step out of my comfort zone and at least visit this school because I was thinking of transferring. I was pretty nervous about flying on a plane by myself, and I’d never really been away from home that long. It was only 4 days, but I was still pretty nervous about it. But I’m really grateful for that experience because I feel like it showed me that I was stronger than I realized. Like everything went well and I was able to figure out how to get on the plane. Like I didn’t get lost or anything, so I feel like that’s a pretty big accomplishment in my life. After that, I did feel like I could do anything. And I’m glad I came to Radford because it was the right thing and I’ve met a lot of good people and great professors, so I’m happy I didn’t take a gap year. I’m happy with the decisions, so I’ll see where my life takes me now.”
I’m a transfer student, so this is my first year at Radford. I’m technically a senior due to credits, but a junior, according to time. I’m from Roanoke, so I’m not from far away, but I think getting out of the house, getting away from my parents, getting away from the kind of life I was living there—which wasn’t bad— just I’m naturally an introvert, and, in some ways, don’t really like talking to people, so it was really hard for me to get involved in relationships with people. Once I came here and became a part of CO (Campus Outreach) and Christ Church, it was really helpful, and everything began forming as one unit and I started having a lot of those relationships that were consistent, and I grew to become more comfortable around other people and enjoyed getting to know people. Not just in conversation or spending time, but actually getting to know people in depth. Overall, living in Radford rather than Roanoke really helped me with that. Just constantly being around the same kind of people helps with those relationships.
I didn’t grow up in the most friendly environment for that sort of stuff. I used to live down in Florida, and while I was down there, a lot of stuff was going on in my family, and my parents got divorced. But I moved to Virginia with my dad and stepmother. But neither my mom or my dad is friendly towards LGBTQ people in general. They really don’t like that sort of stuff. Being another sexuality other than straight wasn’t something I thought about quite a lot. I just always assumed I’m straight because I really couldn’t be anything else. But once I got away to college, got a chance to be on my own and think for myself, I started figuring out about more things and stuff because the same spiel and propaganda I dealt with at home wasn’t being forced on me. I could start talking to people who actually took the time to talk with me and talk through some of the opinions, thoughts, and ideas I had. Part of me always had a little suspicion that there was something like that in my head, but I never paid much attention to it because, with any attraction I had to guys, it was like, “I’m just going to ignore that. That’s not real. It’s just a fluke or whatever.” I couldn’t possibly be anything other than straight as far as I was concerned at the time. But once I got to college, I started paying attention to things more. And I just sort of had an epiphany at one point. It wasn’t like a big moment per se. I just was there for a while and just started thinking about it and kind of figured it out then. But it wasn’t just all of a sudden, bam, I’m bi. But I started getting there, and it was in freshman year of college I figured it out. It helped that I met some of the friends that I met, ‘cause they’re pretty big into that sort of stuff. From the start, they were very much like, “Yeah, we’re not going to hurt you for this.” That helped a fair bit with figuring it out and made me a bit more comfortable with things.
“Jesus died for me and that’s why I love life so much. But I don’t want to explode in people’s face all the time because not everyone is happy all the time and it’s intimidating to people and ‘too much’ sometimes. But I think people don’t know how to appreciate life sometimes anymore. People are afraid of joy sometimes. A lot of times, they think if everything is going good then something must be wrong. They’re not living life to the fullest because they’re scared of knowing the truth. But why would you not want to live a happy life right now?”
I had a black live-in nanny when I was growing up. That’s like extremely racist to a lot of people, but it wasn’t like The Help. It wasn’t like a 1950s-60s kind of thing. She worked with my mom and they were friends, and she did other jobs, but she was a nanny when she could be. For a while, I didn’t know it wasn’t normal to have a nanny because she was like my second mom; she was like family. So it was never strange to think, “I grew up with a black nanny in a white family.” That’s a lot of stereotypes that didn’t actually become stereotypes. So I’m not a fan of the whole “stereotypes exist ‘cause they’re true.” No, they don’t. Stereotypes exist because people have predetermined biases towards certain types of people that they don’t want to associate with. But I don’t believe in basically any stereotypes. I’ll still make fun of a white girl in the line at Starbucks who wants to order the most complicated thing on the menu. I’ll still tease people like that. But I don’t believe black people are more predestined to break the law or anything. No, it’s ‘cause the law is literally targeting them at all times, and these people aren’t given the same opportunities in life ever. You try growing up in the inner city and stuff like that and see if you come out okay. And people do come out okay, but that’s through a lot of perseverance and personal growth and that’s more of a miracle story than anything that happens in white suburbia. I’m prone to getting into Facebook fights with my relatives which I’ve been told repeatedly by my parents to please not do, because we do have to see them on Thanksgiving. But I had an uncle who got up in arms over the whole Kaepernick not standing for the anthem thing, and so he made this post about it and I commented on it, and he started saying how black people aren’t oppressed in this country anymore, and I’m like “Well, they are.” I think if I had taken it out of the Facebook chat and put it in a Word document it probably would have been a solid three pages of statistics of what it is like to grow up black in America and stuff from the fact that you get pulled over for traffic violations like 70% more often even though you commit traffic violations at the exact same rate as white people, and you go to jail way more often even if you commit the same crime, and you go to jail for longer. I threw like three or four pages of statistics at him and he pulled the “I had a black friend growing up” card. He’s like “I work with people of diverse ethnicities every day.” He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. So I pulled out the 2010 Census of Salt Lake City and Utah as a whole, which says the entire state, is 98.7% white people. So I wrote back and said, “I know you live in Utah, so statistically speaking you probably forget other races exist, but they do, so you don’t get to be the authority on whether or not someone is still oppressed in this country.”
“When I was 15, I moved from Puerto Rico to Hopewell, VA to live with my aunt. My family always had problems. My mom was bipolar and had depression, and we moved all the time. Living with my aunt made everything feel more stable. But my family in Puerto Rico thought I wouldn’t last six months in America. They thought I was dependent on them and wouldn’t make it, and that I was going to end up going back to live with them. When I was packing to leave, I packed everything, and my grandmother was like, ‘Why are you packing so much? You don’t know if you’re even staying.’ I said, ‘Oh, I’m staying.’ It’s been four years since then, and I’m still here.”
“My first impression of him was: ‘Man this guy is a nerd. Oh my god, he’s so nerdy —I like this guy.’ He’s a real straightforward dude. He’s good to a fault almost. It kinda makes him a little predictable, but you need that. Me, I’m a little chaotic, so having him by my side is like a standpost. Someone I can always rely on to be there when I need them.”
“This guy is a really good performer. It’s just part of his personality. It’s from where he went to college before and did stuff with acting. I’m just like ‘wow.’ I can see it. I can see how good he really is.”
I have a lot of assignments to do. I have a lot of outside readings I have to do. And I have the memory of a one year old infant. And as you know, they don’t have memories. So I have to write a lot of stuff down, then I have to remember that it’s written down somewhere, and then I have to remember where that is. I actually need to go to the…uh…bookstore! Yeah, the bookstore and see if they have a little board I can write on and get some scissors. So yeah, if I had a better memory, I’d be a lot more productive.
2017 is starting a little shaky. My PC broke. My truck broke down. I’m just so sad and tired all the time. I’m always hungry. It’s been a pretty rough start of the year so far. But, you know, you just put one foot in front of the other and keep going. You don’t let it stop you. As long as you’re breathing, opportunities always arise.
“My favorite instrument to play is trumpet or tenor sax. My mother would always find a way to pay for whatever I needed, even some of my instruments, and even if she was not at all able to, she would find a way. I feel guilty ’cause I’m not able to pay her back right now for everything she’s done for me.”
When I first started here with Clinical/Mental Health, I thought that it was what I really wanted to do. I thought that it was what I was supposed to do. I don’t really feel that way anymore. When you find what you’re supposed to do, you should find a feeling of fulfillment. I just don’t feel that with what I’m doing. Whatever you’re doing, make sure you’re doing it for you. Not because you’re trying to appease someone else or because you’re trying to change someone’s else’s opinion of you. Do it for you.