Entering your first year of college can be an extremely isolating time. You are disconnected from your usual support systems, unfamiliar with your surroundings, and grasping for a new community to be a part of. What happens when students can't find those communities in their first semester or first year? They feel defeated. The 'best four years of their life' are falling short, and you don't know why. This was my experience as a first year student, and the experience that pushed me to start a program to bring people together in a meaningful and authentic way.
My Story strives to make first year students, and all students, feel like a valued part of the community. When students feel like their voice and presence is valuable they are empowered to dig into the community and contribute. We create a space of belonging that gives students a launch pad so they can dive into their new surroundings.
Universities are siloed communities.
As I was going through my first year of college I noticed that many groups of students were separated from each other by labels. They all had a similar goals of improving the diversity and inclusivity of the campus, but no one was talking to each other! Men didn't feel invited to Women's Center events, white students didn't feel invited to Black Student Union events, Asian students didn't feel invited to Chicano events, the list goes on!
My Story raises up a diverse range of voices and stories to be heard. At one event we had a Religious Studies professor, a cafeteria employee, and a female STEM student all share the same stage. This brought all of these corners of campus into the same room to listen to each other's stories, breaking down the labels that typically divide us.
A platform to speak, a place to listen.
On college campuses there are often various spaces for students to voice their opinions, yet there is rarely a space dedicated for other students to listen to students with differing perspectives. My Story focuses on providing a solid platform for mainstream and minority or marginalized persons to be heard by a body of their peers. Through this interaction the most amazing thing happens; empathy is exchanged. People find out they are not the only ones struggling with an obstacle, or they learn about an issue they never even realized existed.
My Story creates a space for the magic of storytelling to inspire the magic of story-listening. People in the audience sit and listen attentively for an hour as their peers bravely and vulnerably speak their truth. In doing so they are a crucial part of the My Story experience.