I attended Portland State 2010-2011. I became a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, president of the Black Cultural Affairs Board, student leader in the LSAMP program and was very involved with Multicultural Affairs. All these activities on top of studying computer science and paying out-of-state tuition overwhelmed me. I said “yes” to far too many commitments. I was on a $30,000 search for what I wanted to do with my life.
Sequentially, before I let the weight of my challenges become a burden, I felt that a return to my home town of Kent, WA would allow me time to soul search and gain confidence to find my way in this world and save some money as well. One thing I did not give up on was remaining a student. Over the 2011 winter break, I enrolled at Highline Community College in Des Moines, WA. Little did I know my life would change forever.
Surprisingly, come to find out Highline is the most ethnically diverse college in Washington statewith more than 50 different languages spoken. I could not turn away from student leadership either. However, this time I did not let my extracurricular activities get in the way. I was the VP of the Black Student Union, and job searching lead me to become the 2012 ASHCC Student Government: Speaker of the Caucuses, as well as a 2012-2013 Inter-Cultural Center staff member. Both of these jobs required me to represent the student body by hosting events based on social justice issues and promoting diversity in order to give students a safe place to be themselves.
Ultimately, what I got out of these roles is diversity is so important. Growing up, I always thought I knew what that meant since I am black. Wrong. Diversity is important because we interact daily with people from all over the planet. If you do not understand the backgrounds of others, then you will fail to communicate effectively. That is what leads to arguments, hatred, and even wars are fought due to lack of cultural understanding. Standing up for those who are different from me allowed me to learn more about myself that I ever imagined, and I am actually happy I made the decision to move back home. I challenge PSU Chronicles readers to do the same thing, go out and interact with those who seem foreign to you. What you will realize is that we are more the same than different.
Now that the 2013-2014 school year is about to start, I am a Viking again, and not only am I coming In with this humbling experience, I have also raised my grades above a 3.0 for the first time since middle school.
Below I have posted a link of a talk show that I hosted for the Highline Inter-Cultural Center titled, Global Village: Live! The subject is intercultural communication, and features an interview with Instructor Teela Foxworth, who actually went to school here in Oregon at OSU. Check it out: