To embrace diversity is to care enough to listen with an open mind and to speak up
during difficult conversations. The #StocktonVoices social media series gives students,
faculty and staff a platform to both speak and listen to our own diverse voices.
The featured profiles highlight reflections on current events, ways to see a different
perspective and stories that center on the themes of race, culture, equality, inclusion
"How do I celebrate diversity through music? I feel that music in itself is a celebration
of diversity!" said Jesus Barnes, a junior Studies in the Arts major with a concentration
in Theatre Performance.
Jesus shares his music talent with the Stockton community at many events and most
recently sang at the Black History Month flag raising ceremony.
We asked him to talk about diversity and music.
"I do not aim to be diverse. I listen to music and I AM diverse! I indulge in all
genres! Every culture has a music like every culture has its own food, and so the
freedom to listen is an inclusive buffet that I am honored to take part in any time
I open my mouth to sing!" he explained.
Listen to his performance
at last semester's Community Conversation on understanding systemic racism. In describing
his song choice, he said, "I feel like there is a struggle of the past. I hope for
the future, and I picked this song because it lives right in the middle."
Associate Professor of Social Work Dr. Maya Lewis reflects on what Inauguration Day
meant to her & her twin girls:
"It was a glorious day, indeed! We were decked out in our pearls and pink and green
shirts that shouted, 'My VP Looks Like Me!' We had on our fancy pants and our shiny
skirts on as I rustled the girls up to gather in front of the TV and see this brilliant
Black woman take the oath as the next VP of these United States. I was elated and
had tears, the girls were captivated at the ceremony. Even at 6, it seems they understood
the gravity of moment (well they should since I’ve talked about it relentlessly since
forever). After the oath I cheered, they cheered and we ate a cupcake and they both
turned to me and asked, 'Mommy can we go change and play now?'
"I grew up here in South Jersey, a Black girl in a school full of white kids always
feeling as though I wasn’t enough. It wasn’t my parent’s fault, they poured esteem
and love into me. It was society constantly hitting me over the head making me feel
as though I was smart but not smart enough, I could be expected to do well but it
was still only going to be well enough. There were limits in America. As a Black woman,
I could get right up to the edge of greatness but would not be allowed to cross the
"When I found out I was having twin daughters, I was excited, and I was also determined.
After spending critical years at Spelman College, meeting and befriending, and being among the most dynamic Black women, I began to
understand that the limits America placed on us were fake. When I had them, I knew
I would do my best to raise my daughters with fearlessness and freedom and joy. I
wanted them to know that they have the absolute right to be in any spaces where they
desired to be. I wanted them to experience the world from the position of the center
and not the position of the outsider or other. I wanted them to know their strength,
to know the power they bring from their ancestor women warriors, and to know that
"I think we are on the way to realizing this goal. The girls are constantly questioning
the patriarchy (lol). They always are asking me, 'Mommy why is it always he, why not
she?' They asked when we say the blessing before dinner if we could refer to God as
she, and they want to know why Kamala Harris is only the first woman VP? To them,
Black women already belong in the greatest and most important of places. I know that
they are still so young and that their view of the world is very controlled by me.
I know also there is a chance of that confidence waning when they reach adolescence.
But, with the election of Kamala Harris, the glimmer of hope that their view of themselves
and the world won’t change, is getting so much brighter. So yes that day, that January
20th, was a glorious one indeed!"
Malikah Stafford reads her powerful poem, "On Your Knees," written for the Stockton
Theatre Club's cabaret.
"I hope that my piece opens people’s eyes to the historical, continuous injustices
committed against Black people which have left us imprisoned on our knees for centuries.
I hope people will feel inspired to make meaningful, advocative change and feel the
urgency to contribute to the fight against oppression," she explained.
Stafford is a Communication Studies major and Africana Studies minor and a member
of the Unified Black Students Society.
Kameika Murphy, assistant professor of Atlantic History, explains the power of storytelling
and its impact on social justice.
"Stories of African-Americans, stories of Afro-diasporic peoples outside the U.S.,
and representations of blackness shape the perceptions and the treatment that people
receive. And therefore social justice includes paying closer attention to those stories
and who gets to tell them," she explained.
As a graduate student, Murphy began to see gaps in history. "The narrative I was being
given in class started with slavery. We had not been given any other context. The
image and memory that was being reinforced in my mind was of my people, people who
looked like me, my ancestors, only in servitude and nothing else," she said.
The history of slavery is incomplete when stories from the enslaved’s perspective
"When we think about the African American experience, we see black people as such,
people, humans, not a process through which they were being dehumanized," she said.
Watch Kameika Murphy's full presentation on YouTube.
Pictured are Kameika Murphy, Nordia Johnson and Donnetrice Allison at the Community
How will they be remembered?
Megan Coates, a senior archaeology major, didn't want to see another image or video
of brutalized bodies--that's not how the black lives lost unjustly should be remembered,
Recalling that Martin Luther King Jr. encouraged activists to march in their Sunday
best, she got out her drawing supplies to memorialize the human lives how she feels
they deserve to be remembered.
Coates is making a calendar that shows hand-drawn "pictures of these people as they
lived in everyday life."
The project started from a place of "powerlessness" that resulted from watching the
traumatizing footage over and over again. Turning off the news felt too much like
"We're used to seeing the faces with bruises and autopsy photos. I was so tired of
that. In the calendar, we would look at the faces, these victims of injustice and
police brutality, in a different way. I wanted people to see these people as human
beings. Not just as victims, as bodies, as corpses, another case study and another
case of some black person being murdered," said Coates.
Their stories are told through her attention to detail.
In describing her drawing of Tamir Rice, Coates recalled, "as I was sketching his
teeth and mouth, I specifically remember that his teeth hadn't fully formed yet. They
don't show this picture very often. They show the still of him being murdered. He
was outside playing with a toy and he was murdered."
Coates said the hardest part of the calendar project is choosing the 12 faces to include.
There are so many lives to choose from.
Coates began drawing a few years ago. "I went to Greece in 2017 and remember being
inspired by the light. It's so beautiful there. When I returned to the states, I missed
the light, and regretted not having taken more pictures. So I started drawing and
painting what I remembered, and I've been painting and drawing ever since," she said.
Coates holds the student role as executive director of Diversity Initiatives at Stockton
and Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, Greece. She plans to pursue a Phd in Archaeology
and hopes to become a professor at Stockton.
"I want to continue the work of Professor David Roessel. He's my mentor and the man
who brought me to Greece and gave me the courage to pursue my passion," she said.
Watch Coates's presentation given during the Community Conversations series on YouTube.
Meg White, associate professor of Education at Stockton, recently collaborated with
colleagues to publish the book, “William Frantz Public School: A Story of Race, Resistance, Resiliency, and Recovery
in New Orleans,” which highlights the stories of school desegregation in New Orleans
beginning with Ruby Bridges in 1960 through the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina
on public education.
“It matters that society has historically marginalized Black students and continues
to do so. It matters that attempts to dismantle systemic racism in schools and other
institutions still face strong resistance and these issues continue to deeply divide
the United States,” White says. “It matters that discrimination and systemic racism
in public education is indicative of that which occurs in other social institutions.
It’s important to know where we came from so we can be better about where we’re going.”
Much of her work at Stockton focuses on recruiting and training pre-service teachers
to be effective educators in urban environments. “Most teaching vacancies are in urban
areas where we need our most dedicated and prepared teachers. Our program strives
to fill this need with students who have had a variety of fieldwork experiences and
are prepared from day one to teach in any classroom.”
Monica Viani from the Dean of Students Office wore a shirt adorned with the late Supreme
Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg's favorite white jabot from South Africa. Her mask
said "Ruth" underneath a stylized portrait of the second woman to serve on the nation's
We asked Viani to share how RGB has inspired her.
"From graduating first in her class at Columbia Law, to overcoming gender discrimination
in her field, to using her position to advocate and become a champion for women's
rights and equality, to the gumption she showed in her dissents on the Supreme Court,
Ruth Bader Ginsberg is truly an inspiration to me.
A quote of hers which is most poignant to me is, 'If you want to be a true professional,
you will do something outside yourself. Something to repair the tears in your community.
Something to make life a little better for people less fortunate than you. That's
what I think a meaningful life is- living not for oneself, but for one's community.'
This mantra resounds with me as it is how I aspire to live my life, both personal
Thank you RBG for your life of service and for fighting for what is right; gender
equality and justice.
Rest easy, knowing we will continue the good fight."
Red Summer is a visual series that illustrates racial violence in the American landscape
through the lens of Wendel White, Distinguished Professor of Art. The phrase "Red
Summer" refers to the concentration of racial conflicts (at least 25) that took place
across the U.S. in 1919.
White revisited a number of the communities where the significant events occurred
to make landscape photographs. He then searched for newspaper clippings that described
the events at those sites and crafted collages.
A selection of White’s photographs from his Red Summer portfolio and Manifest series
are now on display in the Stockton University Richard E. Bjork Library Learning Commons.
"Red Summer," artwork by Casey Ruble and Wendel A. White, is coming to the Stockton
Art Gallery Jan. 19-April 1, 2021.
Photographer Nastassia Davis asks us to look inward and to think about what paths
we will choose in life with her self-portrait titled "Fork in the Road."
Davis used her camera, a tripod and a self-timer at the Knife & Fork Inn restaurant
in Atlantic City to capture the portrait and then superimposed images of forks on
the ground. Of her image, she said she is "making a statement about going through
life and overcoming obstacles or moving through the forks in life to make major decisions
on the right path to go."
We asked Davis to share how she is navigating her journey. "Overcoming obstacles comes
with having a strong sense of self, perseverance and a goal in mind. Write down your
destination and keep it some place where you can see it everyday. What has gotten
me through my toughest obstacles was always following my gut, my instinct. Sitting
in a quiet space to center myself, praying and then listen to what my heart tells
me to do. If it doesn't feel right, I don't move forward," she said.
The first photographs that caught Davis' eye were taken by her father who created
portraits in the 1970s and early 1980s. "He had a real talent for capturing people's
personalities and style. I fell absolutely in love with photography from that moment
on," she said.
Davis founded youth photography workshops called Lightshooters as a way to use art
and photography to combat gun violence. She has worked on many art related projects
for the Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton University and the School of Arts and Humanities.
In the summer, she leads photography classes for Atlantic City and Pleasantville youth
through the Coalition for a Safe Community. See more of her work on her Facebook page
Nastassia Davis Photography LLC and at ndavisphoto.com.
A first grade experience inspired Ralph Hunter to become involved in history by preserving
and sharing it with audiences at the
African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey, located at the Noyes Arts
Garage of Stockton University.
When Ralph Hunter’s teacher read Little Black Sambo to his class, where he was one
of four African Americans, he’d put his hands over his ears to block out the story.
Then at recess, the students would call him Little Black Sambo.
“That was my introduction to Little Black Sambo and how people would treat you as
an African American,” he said.
Many years later, he began collecting Little Black Sambo books and African American
memorabilia, and today, his collection of thousands of pieces of history serves as
a reminder of our past and asks viewers to question where we are today and where we
Ralph Hunter talks about how he created the museum in this PBS interview.
Senior Ahmiya Jones turned her insecurities into her super power after transferring
to Stockton University and starting The Plus-Size Project, the first organization on campus dedicated to
creating an inclusive space for plus-size women and loving the skin they’re in.
“When I came to Stockton, I couldn’t find a club that highlighted body positivity,
self-love and self-empowerment on campus. It was definitely a little difficult starting
the club; I noticed there weren’t many people who looked like me and were actually
being heard at Stockton. It was a process, but the safe space the club creates is
like no other. My advisor Laurie Dutton and mentor Dianne Stalling helped me like
no other as I was starting the club. The Plus-Size Project is a community of people
coming together to uplift one another, no matter their size. I’ve always struggled
with body positivity, but since starting college and The Plus-Size Project, I’ve overcome
"People struggle with accepting their body every day. Many people feel uncomfortable
just walking through the hallway, and may need that one compliment to make their day
or that one organization where they feel safe. The Plus-Size Project makes room for
an environment where plus-size individuals can feel safe in their own skin, the focus
being on us and how we feel in our everyday life.
"African American plus-size women specifically have always struggled with acceptance
amongst our bodies. Many of the problems we face in our community are criticisms over
our weight, whether it be from our family or even acquaintances. By just going into
a store and not being able to look in certain sections, the plus-size community is
separated from the real world, especially when it comes to aspects like the fat tax
or our size not being available. Little things like these make a big difference, and
the change starts with us.
"I hope The Plus-Size Project remains on campus even after I graduate because the
message the club brings is like a movement that I hope never changes. I want incoming
students who may struggle with body confidence or self-love to know that I hear you
and I am here for you. I hope to leave a positive mark on the Stockton University
campus, and shine light on how being positive and staying true to yourself is something
that can’t be compared to ANY process.”
Donnetrice Allison turned her restless thoughts on the death of Chadwick Boseman into
a reflection and a tribute to the actor who showed us that black images matter. She
draws on her research and teaching on media portrayals of African Americans to show
us how he was a part of something much greater than just movies.
"I have spent more than two decades saying this phrase to whoever would listen – it’s
not 'just a movie.' You see, over the years, I have been very critical of certain
movies, actors and directors, who have made artistic choices that I believed were
damaging to the Black community. In the early days of film and television, we didn’t
have a choice but to shuck and jive, step and fetch it, smile extra wide and make
our eyes pop for the white gaze, but in more recent years a growing number of Black
creators, producers and executives have been positioned to offer us images of ourselves
that are more three dimensional.
And no, I am not suggesting that Black characters always have to be dignified and
upstanding and perfect on stage and screen, but I am saying that our men don’t always
have to be criminals and thugs, and our women don’t always have to be loud and ratchet.
We are so much more than that. Black people are so much more than that. We range from
intellectuals to criminals and everything in between. We are mothers and fathers,
we love country music, classical music and opera, not just hip hop and R&B. We are
diverse and complex, just like our ancestors on the continent of Africa were diverse
and complex and spoke hundreds of different languages. All of that should be reflected
in film and television, not just the handful of stereotypes that were created in the
white imagination to degrade us.
And the reason so many of us are so hurt by the death of Chadwick Boseman is because
he understood that. HE GOT IT in a way that many actors and creators still don’t,
and he got it at a very young age.
While most young actors are out there hustling and trying to catch their first big
break, they are willing to take whatever roles they can get to put food on the table
or get their name in lights – not Chadwick. From the very beginning of his career,
he wanted to say something profound and he wanted to represent us in a way that we
could be proud of, so he struggled early on and he refused the thug roles that Black
male actors are so often expected to accept. He understood that he was meant for more,
he was capable of more and we deserved more; and boy oh boy did he give us more.
There is a saying that 'success is when preparation meets opportunity.' Chadwick Boseman
embodies that, because as soon as opportunity came knocking, he was prepared to give
us his all. And contrary to what some may believe, he didn’t just come out of nowhere.
He wasn’t an 'overnight success.' He worked at his craft for more than 20 years. Unfortunately
for us, we only really got to know of him in the last seven years. But in that short
time, he blessed us. He gave us images and reflections of ourselves that made us stand
tall in ways that Hollywood often does not. Hollywood does not honor and love us the
way Chad did.
He was a legend in his own time, and he deserves all the accolades we can give him.
So, to anyone who thinks we’re doing too much right now in our public mourning of
him, I say, 'it’s not just a movie.' This year has brought us blow after blow. We
lost a basketball legend, a civil rights icon and our first Black superhero, all while
COVID-19 has ravaged our communities and police have taken our lives. So, cut us some
slack as we publicly mourn our superhero – Chadwick Boseman. Black Images Matter!"
Allison is professor of Communications and professor and coordinator of Africana Studies.
“African American Movies,” “African Americans on Television” and “Women, Minorities
and the Media” are just a few of the courses she teaches, and she is editor of the
book "Black Women's Portrayals on Reality Television: The New Sapphire."
Photo credit: This image was from Chadwick Boseman's final tweet that has become the
most-liked post in Twitter history.
Linda J. Wharton, professor of Political Science at Stockton, has taught and lectured
about issues of gender equality throughout her academic career. Her earlier legal
career also focused on issues of gender equality. She served as the Board Chair of
the National Women’s History Alliance and currently serves on the ERA Coalition’s
national Legal Task Force.
“Today (August 18, 2020) marks the centennial of the ratification of our Constitution’s
19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote in all states. It’s a truly momentous
occasion and one that must be celebrated and acknowledged. I am personally awed and
inspired by the accomplishments of the suffrage movement that resulted from decades
of advocacy and hard, hard work by a huge, diverse group of women.
“Yet, its legacy is complicated. While the 19th Amendment immediately secured voting
rights for some women, others, including many Black women, were systematically kept
from voting for decades. And, of course, egregious forms of voter suppression continue
today. The movement was also marred by racist tactics and politically expedient compromises
by some white suffrage leaders. So, while it’s a day to celebrate, it’s also a day
to reflect on this history and learn from it so that we do not repeat its mistakes.
“Moreover, the 19th Amendment’s guarantee of gender equality is limited to the specific
context of voting. Fortunately, in January, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify
the Equal Rights Amendment, an amendment that would extend protection for gender equality
beyond the voting context to all aspects of citizenship and provide a constitutional
foothold for strengthening protection in areas such as pregnancy and parenting discrimination
and sexual harassment in education and the workplace. Most of the world’s constitutions
guarantee sex equality. It’s truly shameful that the US Constitution does not.
“I hope that each of us will do what we can to contribute to completing the unfinished
work of the movement to achieve full constitutional equality for all women. That’s
the best way of honoring the legacy of our constitutional foremothers.”
Just one class can open minds to new perspectives. Nazia Kazi, assistant professor
of Anthropology, reflects on her experiences teaching on topics related to race.
"One of the things that strikes me while teaching about topics such as race, migration
and Islamophobia is just how little so many of our students know about our racial
past. Their social studies classes have reminded them time and again about the Boston
Tea Party and how a bill becomes a law. But students all too often arrive in my classes
with scant knowledge about, say, the murder of Fred Hampton, the MOVE bombing in Philadelphia,
or the militant abolitionism of John Brown (and if you, too, are unfamiliar with these
histories, well – you’ve just proved my point). Once our students are presented with
the uncomfortable facts of America’s racial legacy, I am stunned at the compassion
and diligence they bring to their studies and their eagerness to pursue social justice
outside of the classroom.
One student told me that, before taking my “Race & Islam in the U.S.” course, her
only exposure to Muslims was an experience as a child at an airport, when her father
led her away from Arabic-speaking passengers, telling her ‘don’t look at them.’ She
told me that taking the class changed her entire outlook on the relationship between
the U.S. and ‘the Muslim world.’ I find such paradigm shifts inspirational; it gives
me great hope to see students willing to revisit, revise, even abolish their long-held
assumptions about race and difference.
As a faculty member, it is my responsibility to ensure that the classroom and the
campus at large is a site for the open exploration of such ideas. I regularly invite
students to challenge and disagree with class material (provided they do so in an
informed, educated, and thoughtful manner)."
Kazi is author of "Islamophobia, Race, and Global Politics," which is required reading
in college classes across the country.
One day, several years ago, while working in retail as a manager, one of Irvin Moreno-Rodriguez's
delivery drivers called him and said, “I’m done. I’m not delivering to this person
anymore. They are rude and treat me terribly.”
Moreno-Rodriguez, who is currently a graduate student and staff member at Stockton,
accompanied the driver to the house on the next grocery delivery to see if he could
mend the relationship between the driver and the customer, and together they knocked
on the door.
Unknowingly, the sounds of their fists innocently banging on the door took the homeowner
back to Nazi-occupied Europe.
“Knocking on the door was the mistake because, to make a long story short, this person
was a Holocaust survivor. And she told me that every time somebody knocked on the
door--and we would knock on the door loudly to get a customer's attention--she would
go back to that time period during the war. That day, a lesson was reinforced for
me, and my driver learned something new,” said Moreno-Rodriguez.
“I’m a product of the education that Stockton University provides, and what’s always
stuck with me is my ability to look at issues and problems from a different perspective—the
human perspective,” he said.
The first thing we must do to solve any issue is to listen.
Irvin is a Criminal Justice graduate who earned a minor in Holocaust & Genocide Studies
and is currently enrolled in Stockton's Master of Arts in Holocaust & Genocide Studies
program. He is a program assistant in the Sara and Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource
Senior Danielle Combs is president of Stockton’s Chapter of the NAACP and organized the
Juneteenth March for Justice. Danielle, a Political Science major with a pre-law concentration,
closed out the march by delivering a powerful poem she wrote called "I Can’t Breathe."
“COVID and increasing police brutality has only further proved the urgency of my recent
book Black in America: The Paradox of the Color Line. The disproportionate effects
of COVID on Black communities and the recent deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd,
Tony McDade and Ahmaud Arbery further clarifies that the foundation of our system
based on racism and classism is flawed. The recent rebellions across the nation teaches
us that reform is not enough—and that we as a country need to push the abolition of
our criminal justice system, among others.”
Christina Jackson is assistant professor of Sociology.
“We must stop tolerating the disparities in graduation rates between Latinx and White
students if we truly believe that every student matters! Let’s take ownership of our
sphere of influence and create a campus that is more inclusive and welcoming for Black
and Brown students inside and outside of the classroom. We as an institution should
be adapting to educating this student population who are departing college way too
soon!” - Dr. Ana Rodriguez, Director of Student Transition Programs
Fannie Lou Hamer
It was 56 years ago this week that civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer traveled
from her home state of Mississippi to Atlantic City, where she and other members of
the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party challenged the all-white delegation representing
the state at the 1964 Democratic National Convention.
In her testimony, she talked about the beatings she had endured during her fight for
the right to vote. “All of this is on account we want to register, to become first-class
citizens. And if the Freedom Democratic Party is not seated now, I question America.
Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, where we have to
sleep with our telephones off the hooks because our lives be threatened daily, because
we want to live as decent human beings, in America?”
Although her efforts failed to unseat the delegation, her speech galvanized the nation,
and in 1965 the Voting Rights Act was passed. Stockton University pays tribute to
her historic presence in Atlantic City with the annual Fannie Lou Hamer Human and
Civil Rights Symposium in October, and in 2018 named the Event Room in the new Atlantic
City Campus in her honor.
“Black and Latinx people are highly discriminated against throughout their college-to-career
experience. Entering a job market that was not created to receive their talents, skills,
skin or knowledge is a painful one. But we are here to support them in the process,
and change and disrupt the system. If not now, when? This is the time that we make
the change, this is the time that we provide the true support to expand the social
capital of the students that we bring in...I cannot take on the system of discrimination
alone. However, in the place of my practice, in career services, in Career Education
and Development here at Stockton, alongside with institutional agents, my community
partners, faculty and staff, together we can cultivate a strategic effort to support
Black and Latinx students and their college-to-career transition.”
Kiara Padilla knows what it feels like to be far away from home and her family, but
her love for her culture empowered her to create a new home at Stockton that celebrates
"As a first-generation, post secondary education student, collegiate education was
a difficult goal to achieve. With the support and encouragement of my mother, at the
age of 17, I decided to embark on a journey of self improvement moving from Puerto
Rico to New Jersey completely alone. This decision led me to discover Stockton University
and become part of the Stockton community I have grown to love and be proud of. I
am now 20 years old and a senior Communication Studies major with a concentration
in Public Relations and a dual minor in Spanish and Global Studies. Although I spent
my first year focusing on work and classes, I decided to get involved my sophomore
year. Being in a PWI, it was often difficult to find a community I felt comfortable
in, that is until I came across Los Latinos Unidos. The ability to have a safe space
where I can share my language, culture and journey with people similar to me allowed
me to feel at home here at Stockton University. My decision to be involved with LLU
led me to obtain the courage to become someone future students can look up to and
rely on. I am now proudly involved on campus not only as President of Los Latinos
Unidos, but as a TALONS, Resident Assistant and student worker at the Office of Student
Although at times balancing work, classes and time to improve my personal self seemed
nearly impossible, obtaining a community of supportive staff and peers here allowed
me to flourish, inspiring me to be an example for future Ospreys to follow. As the
diverse and multicultural community grows within our campus, I want to ensure that
students of color will have the ability to feel safe and proud of their heritage within
their campus. I want students to have the ability to freely and openly share their
culture and know that the Stockton community will listen and care for them. I pride
myself in my background, heritage and story and will celebrate it not only throughout
this Hispanic Heritage Month (3rd Annual Celebration at Stockton University) but throughout
my life journey as well."
When someone or something changes your life for the better, the best way to say thank
you is to do the same for others. The Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) changed Angel
Hernandez's life, and now he is changing lives at Stockton.
"As an EOF student, I had to come to terms with the painful reality that we all experience(d)
P-12 education with varying levels of academic preparation, financial stability, access
to resources, and social and emotional support. I questioned many times if I was enough--smart
ENOUGH, eloquent ENOUGH, and prepared ENOUGH.
One of the biggest struggles I faced in undergrad was living beyond my means to fit
in and keep up with students that could afford things I could not. I depleted my high
school savings by the end of my first semester of college, so I had to work. At one
point, I was studying full-time, working two jobs, and also held two internships.
There were countless nights when I was working or doing homework while my peers were
socializing and having fun.
My experience was different because of my socioeconomic status and need to work. I
wish someone spoke to me about budgeting, not living beyond my means, and the importance
of slowing down, taking in the moment, and striving for balance and wellness. I wish
I didn’t pressure myself to “keep up” with my friends and classmates. I worked so
much that I was always stressed and tired—this was my norm. This fuels my desire to
have authentic (and even difficult) conversations with students to help them avoid
making similar mistakes.
As Associate Director of EOF and Co-Chair of First Ospreys at Stockton, I get to “Pay
it Forward” and help students from similar backgrounds who are highly motivated and
capable, but lack adequate preparation and/or the financial means for college.
There is a “village” of faculty, staff, and alum who are here to mentor, guide, and
assist students. We want you to surpass us and to continue to break barriers.
My advice is to take in as much as you can and to try new things. Go to office hours,
attend campus events, join clubs, engage in service-learning, and find ways to pay
it forward--that’s where growth happens!"
Last updated Jan. 29, 2021