My favorite collection of essays is The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley. I have found comfort in the story “The Star Thrower” in the collection because it tells of a starfish that washed ashore and needed someone to throw it back in the ocean before the tide came in. Just like that starfish, I have experienced my share of challenges upon my arrival at the University of Oklahoma.
I spent the first four weeks of school shuffling from office to office in an attempt to advocate for myself in regard to financial aid concerns and getting my graduate funding appropriately applied to my account. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to attend OU, but these concerns have genuinely impacted my ability to balance my personal and financial responsibilities with heavy academic pursuits.
Unfortunately, as a first-generation student of color, I know this experience is not unique to me. Many students of color experience challenges upon their arrival to a college campus that create roadblocks to academic success. My hope is that my experience and the lessons I have learned from the University Counseling Center (UCC) can inspire another student on this journey. I envision that throughout my time at OU I can help other students facing challenges get back on track toward academic success.
Although I have only been on the OU campus for a short time, I have already made significant efforts to connect to the community, share my story, and impact others. I relished the opportunity for an immediate initial appointment with the UCC. Then the UCC intake counselor connected me with a counselor who had experience working with first generation students of color. This UCC counselor encouraged me to join the OU Write Club. Consequently, I became a featured performer for the OU Writing Center, and I began coaching OU students of color on how to write and organize poetry events.
In my time at OU, I hope to lead social justice open mics across campus and inspire students of color to share their stories, build community, and advocate for change.”
Despite my struggles to adapt to the waters at OU, I have learned that the only way to improve student life for underrepresented students at the University of Oklahoma is to encourage and inspire them to be advocates for themselves and their peers, and to have a louder voice on what many believe is a toxic campus (#yOUrBad). Remembering The Star Thrower, I promise to continue to work with my UCC counselor and to mentor underrepresented students. Through mental health counseling, I have gained momentum to continue to swim past the challenges I have faced, and I encourage others to do the same. Counseling truly helps, and I know this because I am proof of that. So if you’re feeling down, please take a chance and ask someone to throw you back in the water before the tide comes in…