Spring Break 2014

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I have been so busy the past few weeks that I haven’t had time to write anything, not even the paper I have due next Tuesday! Spring Break was this past week and I wish it never ended. I spent a few days in Raleigh with my parents and then headed to Charlotte to hang out with my sister. We had a lot of fun trying out some new places including Pio Pio, Tupelo Honey Café, Common Market, and Razzoo’s, all of which are fantastic and you should check out! I especially liked the “beer-ritas” at Razzoo’s and the beer I discovered at Tupelo Honey called Sea Dog Blueberry Wheat Beer. I also got to drink a lot of good wine. It was a good break, but it was much too short.

Now that I’m back at school, I’m keeping busy writing papers and trying to cram two years’ worth of Leadership workshops into the remaining five weeks of school. I’m in the Leadership Ed and Development program, which until recently I didn’t know was really helpful in learning about how to become a good leader. I enjoyed the Team Performance Model workshop a lot, and it’s something I want to use when I’m working at Duke this summer. It was basically a brief run through on how to get teams working together for a single purpose, etc. I’m going to workshops later this semester called “Leading with Integrity” and “Cross-Cultural Leadership” so those should be interesting.

Don’t be surprised if I don’t write more this semester. Last week went by so fast I didn’t have time to process it, and when that happens, it’s not likely that I’ll have much to say. It’s going to be a whirlwind of activity from now until graduation, which is only in 48 days. Oh Lawd.

Beck

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White Girl Black Girl, a poem

I learned today that one of my poems was chosen as a winner of the Human Rights and Social Justice Writing Contest at my school. I am incredibly honored to have won. I almost started crying during my midterm when I found out.

I wrote this poem to make people uncomfortable and get people reflecting on who they are on campus. It’s not supposed to make you feel happy, and its purpose is not to offer solutions, but to bring awareness. It was born in a moment of reflection and frustration, and I hope it creates a moment of reflection for you too.

White Girl

Get out of my way Brown girl
I’m walking here
My North Face jacket and cowgirl boots
won’t stand for your presence
See this Longchamp purse?
It cost more than you spent
on textbooks this semester
And I have it in five colors

Get out of my way Black girl
You don’t belong here
With your Payless shoes
And your sub-par brands
I make sure you know
You can’t match my style
When I stare you down
at the coffee shop

Yeah, keep hiding in your MCC
That’s where we like you
Out of sight, out of mind
Not seen or heard
Not On Our Campus
We own these bricks
And all these societies we join
Ensure we’ll never mix

You wish you were me, you all do
With my straight blonde hair
And my classic blue eyes
My polished ivory skin
and my Vineyard Vines
Don’t even try to compete
You’ll just fail again
like you always do

Get down Black girl
When will you learn?
Your knappy hair and
Your face like mud
Will never outshine me
Why don’t you just give up?
Crawl back to whatever ghetto
you managed to escape from

Don’t worry, I’m not racist
I have that one Brown friend
We haven’t spoken in weeks
But she’s convenient to me
Don’t worry, I’m not ignorant
I’m fully aware of the distance,
Of the disparities between us
And that’s just the way I like it

This campus won’t ever change
Always separated, never equal
Always silenced, never celebrated
There’s no hope rising from these ashes

Every slur that goes unnoticed
Every crime that goes unchallenged
Fuels my fire, My desire
to stay beyond your reach
And leave you in the dust
Cause we both know
you don’t bELONg here

Photo courtesy of Heather Cassano, The Pendulum.

Photo courtesy of Heather Cassano, The Pendulum.

Black Girl

Go ahead, White girl
Walk past me with disdain
Stomping down the bricks
In your brown leather boots
Your nose stuck in the sky
I’m impressed with the number
Of designer purses you have
Tell me, how many will you
Be taking with you when you die?

I don’t have to explain my style to you
I don’t have to defend my face and hair
Against your judgment and your stare
I can express myself with or without
Whatever brands I choose
You can keep your expensive-
Eco-friendly-keeping-up-with-the-Jones-’
mine-is-shinier-than-yours-Porsche
I’ll stick with my simple-broken-in
Gets-me-where-I-need-to-go-sedan

Tell me, did your daddy buy you
A new MacBook Pro
After you told him yours was stolen?
Do you understand what it means to work?
To be in need? To go without?
Your moneyed perception is so blind
To the realities of this world
Your excess is sickening
But your ignorance is just sad

Truth is, I’m a threat to your
Imaginary superiority complex
Because even though I come from the ghetto
And you come from old money
We ended up in the same class
At the same college
And your perfect White world
Is disturbed by my presence

Truth is, you ignore me
Because you can’t come to grips
With the crimes of your ancestors
You come from a history of injustice
I come from a history of resilience
I would never want to be you
You hate me because you hate yourself
You hate me because I remind you
Of your guilt; it’s okay White girl,
Some things you can’t help being born into

Don’t worry, rich girl
One day you’ll learn
That you can’t keep us down
That we’ll never give up
That difference doesn’t mean deficiency
That the world is only turning
A more beautiful shade of brown
With every passing generation

This campus may never change
Always separated, never equal
Always silenced, never celebrated
I’m covered in ashes
Still I rise, filled with hope

Every slur that goes unnoticed
Every crime that goes unchallenged
Fuels my fire, My desire
To remain, to be heard
To change the status quo
Even though, we both know
Minorities don’t bELONg here
Minorities are just allowed here

Beck

News Items and Leftovers

I was approached by the Director of Community Organizing for the National Coalition for the Homeless about my article in the newspaper. He invited me to speak at a panel called the Faces of Homelessness in November at my school. Anytime you get approached by an organization that calls themselves a “coalition”, you say yes; that shit is cool. I guess I’m a cover girl for homeless people now. Homelessness never looked so hot; or as my sister would say, “You’re like the Kardashian of Elon.” Except that I’m getting noticed for not having a place to put my clothes, not for taking my clothes off. Hahaha

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A friend and classmate asked me if she could post my story on the blog, Elon Awareness. I said yes, of course, and I was grateful for the invitation. It’s a really great blog, you should read some of the posts; they speak so much truth.

I’m applying for jobs, which I guess is not really news considering I’m a senior. I thought I would mention it since it’s taking up so much of my time. I’m really glad I don’t have a full schedule this semester; otherwise I would struggle to find time to do it. I’m looking for positions in nonprofits, higher education, and secondary teaching. I’m also researching graduate schools, but I won’t be ready to apply until early fall. There’s a residence life fellowship that I’m really interested in as well. Not that I don’t want to get away from my college, but it’s a really great opportunity to explore higher education as a career. I’m completely torn between secondary and higher education! My dream job would be at Project LIFT Charlotte. It’s an amazing nonprofit organization that deals with education and I really want to be involved in some way next year. They are doing some great things in my hometown.

This brings me to another preoccupation I’ve had this week: I miss teaching. I really miss teaching and talking about education. I’ve been helping my sister with her TEACH Charlotte application and interview and have realized just how much knowledge I have about pedagogy and classroom management. But it’s all going to waste. I’m not using any of it and it makes me sad. When I think about how I could be student teaching instead of taking classes, it makes me angry about everything that happened last semester. I took all the classes and, even though I did not pass one or two, I learned the content, but I’m not getting credit for any of it. When potential employers look at my application, all they will see is a low GPA and that I was kicked out of my program. I’m afraid no one will give me a chance. I can’t even ask my education professors for letters of recommendation because I failed. Who wants to recommend a student who failed their class? I feel that if ever my name is mentioned between professors, they shake their heads and say, “What a waste of potential.” I hate that, because it’s not true. I guess I shouldn’t care what they think, but I don’t like the idea that I disappointed them. Okay, so I’m still working through leftover feelings from last semester, but there’s no set mourning period for broken dreams, I’m still within my rights.

Let’s end on a high note, shall we? A few weeks ago, my boss over at Duke asked if I was available to go to China in August to be a Teacher Assistant for a Leadership class for high school students. I said I was available and very interested. I don’t speak Mandarin, so I’m not a prime candidate, but I do hope I can go despite that. I would love to learn more about Chinese culture, and it would be great to have the opportunity to see some of my former residents that live there. Cross your fingers!

Beck

Editing Me Out

I wrote an article for my college newspaper recently about my experience last semester. When I read it today I was a bit shocked with how much they changed. It felt weird, like I was reading someone else’s article. It just didn’t sound like me. I feel like I’ve been edited out of my own article. I want to be angry but I know this is just how media works; that doesn’t make it okay though. Along with the cuts and edits changing the message of the article (my ending was stronger), they changed the tone and voice as well. Ew. Haha Below is my original article with the major cuts in italics.

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Being homeless is not something you usually want to admit, especially at Elon, but it is an issue that needs more attention and awareness on campus. For most people, it is not even on their radar. It seems strange to think of Elon students sleeping in cars, but the truth is, it happens, and it’s a more widespread problem than you might think. Homelessness doesn’t happen all at once; it’s a process. For me, the process started late last August when I received an email from the Bursars office that basically told me I needed to write a huge check if I wanted to come back in the Fall. I’ve received this email every year, but while our cost of attendance continued to rise every year, my financial aid package slowly shrunk, and now that I was starting my senior year, I was out of money and out of options. After being tossed between the Office of Financial Planning and the Bursar’s Office for days, it was decided that in order to stay at Elon, I would need to find a place to live off-campus, which for me meant finding a job. Taking seven classes and working a part-time job is not easy, so I was sort of relieved when I lost that job due to my limited availability. I was not so relieved when I realized this meant I had to move out of my house. With nowhere else to go, I found myself, at the end of October, moving back home to Raleigh, NC.

I knew trying to finish the semester would be difficult with a two hour commute every day, but I didn’t have any choice. I woke up early to make it to Elon for my 8:00AM class, and drove back to Raleigh late at night. To save gas, I slept on friend’s couches or in the library. My closet, bookshelf, and cupboard was the back seat of my car. I didn’t have a meal plan, so I became really good at improvising meals. I attended free events with food, found faculty lounges with coffee makers, and made friends with dining hall workers who occasionally gave me leftovers. I made being homeless a science. I planned out my days and worked out the details, so that I could stay in school. It wasn’t until Thanksgiving Break that I finally found a place to stay. My church has a program that allows families to “adopt” college students so they can have home cooked meals and a place to stay during holidays; I was in need of both. When they learned of my situation, my adopted family invited me to rent out their spare room for the rest of the year, an invitation I accepted gratefully.

Along with the physical and psychological effects of this homelessness, my academic performance also suffered. It should come as no surprise that students cannot do well when their basic needs are not met. I was treading water for weeks and I felt like I was drowning. For me, being homeless affected me so much as to change the course of my college career. That’s why this issue is so important. It’s not just a place to stay; it’s giving students the foundation they need to reach their potential while in college. I know I have not been the only homeless student at Elon. I wasn’t homeless for long, only about four weeks, but what long weeks those were. I can only imagine how much more difficult that semester would have been had I been homeless the entire semester and not able to commute to Raleigh at least partially. My question is: Where are the resources on campus for those students that struggle to find affordable housing? Where could I have gone for guidance and support when I saw this coming? I believe if you admit a student with financial need, which Elon wants to do more of in the future, you should see them through, and make sure they receive enough financial and academic support to graduate.

Elon prides itself on being a residential campus. We’ve spent millions of dollars creating one. But if we have the facilities and not the resources to provide access to those facilities, that’s not something to be proud of. We are missing something from our Elon Commitment. This is not me waving my finger at University officials and administrators for letting this happen. This is a wake-up call. There are students at Elon who are homeless and need the support of their institution in order to finish their education. This is me saying, please, pay attention to your students; genuinely care about where they sleep at night, because if they are here, but are not set up for success, you do them a disservice, not a favor.

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Read the published article online. There’s also an audio interview if you want to hear how weird my voice sounds when recorded. Readers, I want to know what your reaction to and thoughts on this subject are! Comment below!

Beck

Sick Day

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Today has been the laziest day of my existence. I’m sick with a stomach virus and going on day three of my stomach making loud angry noises at me. I have done nothing but lie in bed, eat crackers, drink water, and well…you know. I’ve been taking vitamins and medicine like it’s my job, but I can’t seem to feel any better. The only exercise I’ve gotten has been walking to the bathroom and kitchen and it’s driving me crazy. I didn’t go to class because running to the bathroom multiple times during an hour and forty minute class is not cute, not to mention the roads are really bad. Rehearsal was cancelled too, which has never happened in the four years I’ve been in orchestra, soooo basically I had no reason to get out of bed, and I didn’t.

I have reading I should be doing and a paper I should be starting, but instead, I’m binge watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix because I’m “trying to rest” and “my body is fighting the virus” and blah blah blah. Actually, I’m just really lazy and that show is SO GOOD. I’m currently on season 6 (Don’t spoil anything for me!). My accomplishments for today include making my bed, bathing, and…writing this blog post…that’s it. Why do I do this to myself?! Let the self-loathing begin. Hopefully, I’ll be more productive tomorrow.

Wash your hands,

Beck