What It Means to Me to Be a Woman of Color on Campus

Allow me to start off by painting a mental picture for you of who I am: I’m 5’3”, a little bit on the fuller side, and, depending on what day you see me, I’ll either have long blonde hair or short brown hair. I have funky glasses that, according to my mom, make me look like Malcolm X and there is a 90% chance that you'll hear me before you see me. Oh, and I’m biracial. It’s not an afterthought, just something I never really considered to describe myself. When I got to college, however, this drastically changed for me.

When I transferred to Carthage the second semester of my freshman year, I was amazed at the diversity in my classrooms. At my first college (we’ll spare the details), the only time I really was used to seeing people that looked like me was at our Black Student Union meetings. It was kind of odd to me how everyone sort of flocked together. I remember my second week there someone yelled the N-word out of one of our 10-story dormitories. It was for that reason and many others that I decided to transfer.

Photo courtesy of Karina Lee

Since I’ve transferred to Carthage, I’ve felt very comfortable. It hurts me to know that some students don’t feel like they belong or have found their place just yet. As with most everything in life, there's still work to be done here but I feel like as a campus we are on a pretty good path. We have phenomenal diversity and equity and inclusion staff here who put on great programs and discussion series. Social justice issues never get pushed under the rug—which is something I feel a lot of other campuses lack. When I step outside of my dorm, I feel safe. I feel respected and I feel like I am given the same education as everyone else.

In some respects, I wish that more minorities were represented in certain areas on campus. I do what I can to get involved in clubs and organizations where I feel like my voice and my opinion and my outlook on life will be recognized and respected. I’m proud to be black. I’m proud to be Latina. I’m proud to have a voice on my campus and I proudly represent women and people of color in everything that I do.

Disclaimer: This article was not meant to speak for an entire group of people. My experiences are just that—MINE.  

Rep image courtesy of Karina Lee