Year: Class of 2014
Major: Journalism, Bachelor of Arts
Minor: Sociology, African American and African Diaspora Studies
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA and Indianapolis, IN
Current Occupation: Chalkbeat Indiana Reporter
Past IU Involvement: Indiana Daily Student reporter, Books & Beyond Program Public Relations Director, NABJ President
Why did you choose IU Bloomington?
I chose IU Bloomington because I thought it was a well-rounded school that would give me the best education in the state. They also had a top-notch journalism school, so that piqued my interest.
What advice would you give to a senior that you wish you would have known?
The greatest advice I would give to a senior is to fully take advantage of every opportunity you are given to tour schools and talk to people who attend those schools. Be a self-starter. Take initiative and ownership of your education. The earlier in your life you start taking agency over your life, the easier it will be for you to overcome any knowledge gaps or challenges.
What was an obstacle that you overcame as an undergraduate student?
I am a first-generation college student and graduate. I always made As and Bs for as long as I can remember. Attending college for the first time was a steep learning curve for me. I remember having the hardest time ever understanding what was going on in Finite Math. I struggled like I never did before. Nothing was clicking, even when I had a tutor and stayed after to ask questions. I ended up failing the class. I was devastated because I had to pass the class in order to continue college. I retook it the summer before my sophomore year at IUPUI and passed it. It was such a rewarding feeling!
How did the 21st Century Scholar services at IU Bloomington benefit you?
The 21st Century Scholar program gave me the funds to be able to survive and thrive at IU Bloomington. Without it, I would have no support. Both my mom and dad come from working-class, low-income backgrounds. They weren't able to financially support me after I graduated high school at all. The 21st Century Scholars program allowed me to attend and participate in college without having to think about my finances (to be fair, I also received the Pell Grant, Frank O'Bannon grant and IU 21SC room and board funds too). I didn't pay for a dime. It gave me the freedom to not worry about finances like so many other students do. As a matter of fact, I got a hefty refund check every semester to spend money on what I wanted.
How did you remain successful as a 21st Century Scholar?
By the time I was a sophomore, I realized that I needed to take my education seriously because it came with a price. Someone (well, something in this case, the 21st Century Scholars Program) was paying for me to go to college. I started getting to classes earlier and making sure I did my very best in all my classes. I attended study/tutor sessions. I asked for help when I needed it from my professors and attended all the office hours I could. I wanted to make sure that I thrived in college, especially since it was an opportunity that many in my family did not get the chance to have. I also made sure I was highly active with extracurricular activities on campus.
What was the best thing about being a 21st Century Scholar?
The very best thing about 21st Century Scholars is that I don't have to worry about paying the government back for attending such a necessary institution! I don't have any undergrad loans. I can't tell you how good that truly feels.
What were your favorite classes at IU and why?
I had so many! It would probably be easier to talk about classes I didn't like. My favorite class was Tom French's storytelling class because it was a small, intimate class and French was so passionate about narrative journalism. We also were able to produce excellent, professor-edited stories from that class and publish them in the Indiana Daily Student.
I also loved Dr. Gary Sailes' History of African Americans in Sports class. He was a super passionate professor and I learned so much in his class. Plus, the basketball team that made it to the historic Sweet Sixteen was in that class with me so that was fun.
The late, beloved David Baker had an excellent African American music class that I loved. The late Dr. Frederick McElroy was such a cool teacher. I miss those two professors and they were definitely loved by the IU community.
All my Sociology classes were top notch. I had a Sociology of Gender class (my professor was amazing but I can't remember his name) and a Sociology of Childhood class (taught by Jess Calarco) that I enjoyed. My Black Feminism class (taught by Maisha Wester) and my Chicano class were amazing!!! Dr. Claudia Drieling, Dr. Henry Wakhungu and Dr. Fernando Orejuela were some of my all-time favorites as well.
What activities (including employment) were you involved in?
My freshman year, I participated in the Alpha Phi Alpha Miss Black and Gold Fraternity Scholarship Pageant. I didn't win the pageant, but I did win Miss Congeniality! Throughout my four years of college, I was deeply involved in the Books & Beyond Project (a student volunteer organization within Foster-Martin's Global Village where we wrote children stories for students in Kigali, Rwanda with students at KIPP schools in Newark, New Jersey), Indiana Daily Student and the IU chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. I also worked at the IU Student Union as a caterer! It was a fun job that allowed me to eat some meals while I worked setting up and serving at galas and weddings in the union.
Alumni Advice on Life after IU
Be a go-getter. Be a self-starter. If you are a person who comes from a marginalized community, realize that you are going to face many obstacles in this life. But, you will grow stronger and you will learn how to suppress that imposter syndrome that you will feel all throughout your career. Do your best. Be kind to people. Show respect and always give people the props they are due. Always always always ask for advice! Be humble. NETWORK with the people you admire! That's really how you get to the places you want to go.