Chelsea Black '17

Major: Psychology
Hometown:Millersburg, Ohio

At Mount Union, the professors give students the attention and relay the advice they need in order to be successful.

RoY Interviews

RoY Interview 1:

Everyone makes dreams, whether they are big or small, each means something special to each person. That is what makes dreams so special; the fact that they are so unique to each. Whether dreams are as simple as having or family, or as ambitious as saving the world; each dream has the capability to become something special. When I asked a good friend of mine what their dreams were, they had a difficult time deciding just one to tell me. The great thing about dreams is that you can make as many as you want, and you can dream as long as you want.

When she dreams about the future, she wants to accomplish a lot. She has many goals, and aspirations, but as she thought about it more and more she narrowed it down to just a couple. She wants to raise a family more than anything else. Family is something that should be valued in every one’s life. She has been blessed with very supportive parents and siblings, and she wants to make sure she can provide the same for her family. It is very important to her to be a positive role model for her children. Although she feels being a positive role model is important, being able to provide for her family financially, and emotionally is also very important to her. To able to live in a nice home, where her children will be able to grow up, and live happy was emphasized in her response. Above all other things, the most important thing to her was for her family to happy. Happiness is something that she values more than anything else.

Values too are something that varies from person to person, depending on background, ethnicity, or even location. I believe values have a great impact on the direction dreams may go. Dreams are our own, so keep them special to yourself, and do whatever it takes to make them come true.

RoY Interview 2

“Jim” will be talking about his ambitions/identity

Question: What compelled you to go to college?

Answer: Basically I wanted to go to college to get a good education, so I could get a good job so I can provide for my family. Both of my parents did not go to college they just graduated from high school, and jumped into the work world. My parents insisted on me going to college to do well, and not suffer like them.

Question: You talk about how your parents insisted for you to go to college. Tell me more about that? And was there any point in time that you didn’t want to go to college?

Answer: I mean I had firsthand experience seeing my dad lose his job, and how hard it was for him to get a job because he didn’t have a piece of paper saying that he’s graduated from college. I have seen how times were difficult for my family financially. This led me to have the motivation, and personal goals that I wanted to accomplish. 

Question: Who is your idol? Who do you look up to?

Answer: My idol is my dad. My dad taught me never to give up, and help me understand certain situations, and he was very supportive. There were times where he was hard on me, but he taught me to be mentally strong, and to accomplish my goals that I’ve set out to accomplish.

Question: What made you decide your particular major?

Answer: I always been interested in law. I’m majoring in criminal justice with a pre-law minor. Someday I want to become a lawyer, and I really want to live in Florida, or somewhere it’s warm because I’m tired of Ohio weather. I’m tired of the snow, but wherever I land a job I’ll live there no matter what, even if it’s living in Ohio again. With all my hard work and commitment I do hope that will someday will make a lot of money.

Question: You talk about effort. What does it take for you to accomplish your goals?

Answer: What it takes is hard work, and daily studying for the (LSAT). The LSAT is the law school acceptance test. For something of this large magnitude you have to be 100% committed to it, you cannot just second guess the answers. Commitment is what it takes to accomplish anything you want it doesn’t matter how hard it is, if you want something then go out and get it.

Question: Have there been times that you felt like you just wanted to give up?

Answer: A lot of the time actually, especially lately. With all the studying, it takes a big toll on me. Also, just trying to manage the actual school work aspect in addition to studying for the LSAT. It takes a lot out of me, but my ambitions and commitment of becoming a lawyer is something that I have dreamed for years.

Question: If the whole lawyer thing doesn’t work out what else would you want to do? 

Answer: In all reality, I have no clue. All my efforts have been preparing me for law school, but if it didn’t work out then I would probably go into in business or something.

Question: How do you see yourself now, academically speaking?

Answer: School wise, as of right now, I see myself relativity successful. There are other parts of life that I could improve on. After the LSAT test is done and over with, I see myself being even more successful and being closer to my ultimate goal.

Question: As you were growing up what did you really want to become? For example, did you want to become a doctor? Professional athlete?

Answer: As I was growing up I really wanted to become a professional athlete. I wanted to be a pitcher for Cleveland Indians. What inspired me to become a pitcher was that my cousin was a reviler for the Cardinals, and that’s where it all began for me. But when college came around I still wanted to play baseball. Unfortunately, due to several injuries in my arm, I decided to just retire from baseball. It was extremely hard for me, but as time went by I got over it, and saw a whole new aspect of school. School was more important than anything else. Like I said earlier in this interview, I saw how hard it was for my dad to get a job, and how finically it was tough on my family. I don’t want my kids to go through that.

Question: If there was any advice out there for anyone in middle school or high school what would that be?

Answer: Things might not be the greatest. There is always somewhere for help or support. Just don’t be afraid to ask for help no matter what it is about. Surrounding yourself with the right people will help lead you towards your goals. You don’t want to be surrounded by people who do bad things, like get into mischief. Once you get to high school, kids who are in middle school will look up to you. Sometimes playing a sport will allow kids to look up to you, and you want to be able to set a good example of yourself.

RoY Interview 3:

What would you do if you were one of the tallest women in your class? That is what my mother had to go through on a daily basis before she graduated from New Philadelphia High School in 1983. During her school career, she was called names such as Big Bird due to the fact that she was one of the tallest people in her class. My mom did various things to cope with the problems that she had to deal with while she was going through school. She did everything from being a part of the Color Guard with the marching band as well as being a bully at one point and time.

When my mom was looking for extracurricular activities that she could be a part of, she really did not know where she would be able to fit in. When she found the marching band as well as the color guard, she knew that she found the place where she truly belonged. There she was able to make friends that she would be able to stay connected with throughout her high school career as well as the time that she was not in school. I know that she still stays in contact with a handful of the people that she was in band with even now. She tells me all of the stories of when she was in band and all of the competitions that she was in. The look that is in her eyes whenever she tells me these stories shows me how much it meant to her.

At one point and time, my mom tried to conform to the norms that the high school subcultures tried to push onto her. She wanted to feel accepted by this group of people so she chose to take part in a prank that the group wanted to play on a girl that went to their school that was very socially awkward at that point and time. I am not entirely sure of the situation, because my mom does not like to talk about it, but I do know that she felt horrible for what she did after the talk that she had with the principal that occurred after the incident.

My mom has gone through other hard times in her life that sometimes we take for granted. For example, a few years ago, my mom rolled a riding lawn mower and I ended up seeing it land on her. That was a very scary day for both of us because I thought that I was going to lose my mother and my mom was not entirely sure what was going to happen next. Everything is fine now after that scary day. We did learn something though. We learned that we need to appreciate our own lives and the lives of the people around us. There will always be times where we are mad at somebody that we care about but you never know when life is going to take them away and out of our lives. I almost lost my mom that day and if she would have been gone, I would have lost my best friend too.

When I was a little kid, I remember that my mom was always there for me. Whenever I was upset about something, she would tell me how it was and she would give me the biggest and most secure feeling hug that I needed at that point and time. She never missed a single one of my band performances, drama performances, or anything else that I was involved in. My mom and I also created a phrase for members of the band because we did not like the phrase “band geek” so we decided to create the phrase “band jock” because we put in just as much work into what we do, just like the athletes do with their sports. The relationship that I have with my mom is the most amazing things that I have in my life and I am not entirely sure what I am going to be able to do if something ever tries to break that relationship that we have.

My mom wanted to give you all a word of advice and she tells me this whenever I am having a bad day. She says, “Stand up tall and be proud of who you are. You are the way you are for a reason so never be ashamed of that.” She always has a way of saying the right things to me whenever I need to hear it even if it is something that I really do not care to hear. The next time that somebody decides to try and find a flaw in who you are, here is what you have to do. You have to stand up straight, shoulders back, head raised, and have a smile on your face. You are the way you are for a very special reason. My mom made sure that I knew that from a very early age so now it is time for me to pass on that knowledge that was told to me so many years ago. Normal is just a word in the dictionary but only you can define what it truly means to you.

RoY 4 Interview:

While home for the weekend I found a huge opportunity to talk to many people from my own high school about what their opinions on bullying were like while attending Copley High School. What I found was a lot of differences between stories but all having the same underlying similarities. Even when asking the different people I was also surprised to see how most of them realize now that what the bullies were saying were not true but still have some existing fright of what they were made fun of in the past.

The biggest thing I heard and have witnessed at Copley was men being picked on because other students thought they were gay. For some reason while at Copley it was always seen as a negative thing for a guy to be gay, yet if a girl were to come out and say that she was a lesbian then nothing was said really about her sexual orientation. Two of my friends that I have grown up with even felt it necessary to not be true to themselves until they had started their first semesters away at college. This put a lot of strain on their relationships with friends and family when they were younger. When they were telling me about this it made me think back and realize how right they were. While attending high school I can easily remember what girls were gay, but when I go to think about the guys who were none of them had said they were except for Mario while in school. I also remember when he came out all of the backlash against him. One perfect example was when he opened his locker one day and tons of pamphlets about AIDS fell out with a sign that said “Stop Spreading Sin”. Seeing how upset this made him was so maddening because I knew there was nothing I could say or do to help the hurt that had been caused by whoever had put them in his locker.

The other thing that seemed to keep coming up when talking about bullying was about people’s weight. My friend, Anna, seemed to be the most verbal about this issue. She said that when people would make fun of her in middle school all she could do about it was cry at times when she would get home. People would use to chant the word cow at her over and over when she would sit down and eat during lunch. This to her was the worst because she knew she would have to eat to stay healthy and living but the chants would make her want to stop eating because she thought doing this would stop them. I still see these memories affect her because when she and I go out to eat to catch up on times we usually tend to just get take out and eat at home while watching a movie. I also am constantly hearing her talk about wanting to be thinner and evaluating herself when she looks in a mirror. This probably upsets me the most because Anna always puts her friends first and I just wish she would start to see herself how she really looks rather than the image that has been morphed due to other students’ opinions of her from the past.

The good similarity that the three of my friends had realized, though, was that what was said in the past towards them is not a good reflection of how people view them now. They also all said that these people who made fun of them in the past hopefully are not as mean as they were in high school. With this being said my words of advice to everyone going through high school would be just to try to not pay attention to those who are making fun of them. Realizing that this is much easier said than done I would also say then to remember that these people do not really mean what they are saying; most of them probably will not even remember making fun of others unfortunately. So my advice would be to have an open mind and know that what these kids are saying is just something to fill up their meaningless time and not really a direct reflection on who you are as a person or what you stand for. Be true to yourself and do not change who you are just so you can fit in more.

RoY Interview 5:

Identity Who? Surviving the Journey to Discovering the Real You

Growing up, one experience that seems to be universal is the struggle to discover your own identity.  Figuring out who you are, what you believe, and what you want to do is something that most everyone struggles with at some point.  It is something that my best friend David and I often discuss, and as a part of the process of generating this post, I specifically interviewed him about it.  He thought it was best to start at the present and then work backwards, looking at the process he went through as he established his own identity.  When he described his current identity, he gave a whole list of adjectives describing different aspects of himself as a person as well as his beliefs and values.  Some of the adjectives, no doubt, would have sounded completely unfamiliar to his younger self.  For example, he describes himself as a “singularitarian”, a word even most adults have probably never heard of.  Singularitarianism is a specific belief about technology and how it can (and hopefully will) be used to benefit humans in the future.  As a teenager, I know I would have asked myself “Well what on Earth is the good of having such a word for yourself? What’s the point?” This is a question I will come back to later.

During the interview, David described his earlier self as pessimistic, confused, and full of angst.  For him, a major struggle was hiding the fact that he is gay.  It was hard for him to be different and to have his difference be secret from everyone he cared about, especially since adolescence can be such a confusing and difficult time as it is.  Holding all his emotions inside took a toll on him and prevented him from having a positive outlook.  Luckily, he had some parts of his identity already figured out.  For example, he already knew that he was completely committed to learning as many things as he could, and this is something that I am pleased to say is still true of him today.  I think that his curiosity and desire to learn actually assisted him in an important way.  It gave him words to describe the new things he was discovering about himself.  As he learned more, he reformed and refined his own opinions about a wide variety of topics.  Returning to an earlier example, as he learned more about technology and began to for complex opinions about it, he stumbled across information about singularitarianism.  When he read that, he said in his mind “Hey! There is a word for people who think like I do!”.  The reason this is so important is that it gives people a way to learn more about themselves and to let them know that they are not alone.  The simple knowledge that there is a word for people who share an opinion, struggle, or trait with you can be very reassuring.  Knowing that you are not alone in something, even if it is something small, can make the journey seem less daunting.  I think it also makes it easier to accept yourself for who you are.  After all, if other people have been able to do it, you can probably do it too.

When asked to share some advice, David said “I would say that you just have to do your best and keep trying. […] Try to live it up.  Be who you are and try to find acceptance where you can.  Learn things that are interesting and get through the other stuff.  Everything can be a lot better if you try.”  Remembering not to give up even when things get tough is sometimes difficult, but I think that this is wise advice.  I would also add that making sure you have a good base for your ideas is also a good idea.  It helps to not only keep you from making unsafe or unwise decisions, it also provides a sense of stability in a turbulent time.  The ideas I have in my head are something that no one can take away from me, so when everything else in my life seems out of control, I at least know that I have a good, strong foundation in my mind.  It gives you a sense of self and a way to determine which new ideas to take in, and which ones to push away.   This is something both David and I think is important for younger people.  The video accompanying this post talks about that in more detail.

Overall, the most important thing to remember is to never stop learning and always do your best.  As long as you are doing the best you possibly can, you’ll always have a reason to hold your head high and take pride in yourself.

RoY Interview 6:

I interviewed my sister on her middle school and high school experiences. Even though we were twins, she had a very different experience than me.

1) How was your middle school/ high school experience overall?

    - I really don't remember, but middle school was ok. High school was hard.

2) Were there any trials you had to endure throughout those years?

 - Yes, One time in middle school I fell down some bus steps and had a concussion, and I had to be tutored at home the rest of the year because it was so traumatizing to me. Then we moved schools the following year, and that was a relief so i didn't have to face my peers and answer all their questions.

3) Did you and your family have to face any economic hardships?

 - No, not really. My dad switched jobs and got a better one, but we never had any money trouble.

4) Were you ever a bully/victim?

 - Yes, I’ve been a victim before. Girls are mean in middle school.

5) What activities were you involved in?

 - In middle school I went to a cheer leading camp and I was also in Band and Choir.  I dropped band in high school though, but stuck with choir.

6) Did you have any academic challenges?

 - No, I got good grades in everything except math.

7) What compelled you to come to college?

 - I don’t want to be a bum, and I want to be able to support a family someday and have a successful marriage!

8) Is there anything you would’ve done differently in middle school/ high school?

 - I would’ve showered more often, worked out, wore nicer clothes and a bra. I was a freak!

9) How have your experiences helped to mold you into the person you are today?

- They made me into a better person and now I know how not to act. I would have no friends if I was the same person now.

I am sure you as a reader have maybe gone some through these same experiences, maybe you haven't.  The important thing is that we all learn from our past mistakes and we develop into different people as we get older.  I am sure when you are in college, you will look back on yourself and say something like... “WHY?!”  ha ha.  Why did I dress like that? Why did I do this, why did I do that..etc. Every single person goes through that as they get older.  Just enjoy yourself during this time and find out who you are, what you’re interested in, boys you like. HAVE FUN AND DON’T WORRY ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE. Worry about you! You are all who matters in your life as the most important thing. Be happy, Laugh, love, hugs no drugs, be with friends.  You will have a good time if you stop caring about everything else, and just enjoy life for what it is.

RoY Interview 7:

The person I interviewed was a female transfer student who came to my school in the fifth grade.  She came from a relatively low income family with her mother and stepfather.  She was not aggressive, but she was not a pushover when it came to debates and discussions.  I asked her about her experiences before she had transferred to our school, and what she did to change her image when she did move.

Were you a bully or victim while in middle school?

She explained that while in middle school, she was actually a victim.  She was quite quiet, and did not like to stir with other people’s emotions or cause drama.  This led to her feeling suppressed while in school, and she did not like it.  However, she did not directly call herself a victim, as there were periods during her schooling where she could not take the abuse anymore and fought back against her bullies.

Did you have any hardships while in school?

She explained that she came from a low income family.  Her stepmother had to work two jobs in order to support her family, and her father also had to work while taking care of both her and her family.  She explained how her father had left her during elementary school, so when she first actually entered middle school, she was a child of a single-parent family, which is something that was not the norm at her school.  She did mention that she was very smart, and that she frequently topped her class in terms of grades; this also led to her helping her older brother with things that even he did not get.

Describe yourself then and now.

She said that she could be considered a victim, in the sense that she was suppressed and quiet throughout most of middle school.  After she transferred though, she was able to point out her flaws and change the way she acted and was perceived, and was finally able to be herself.  Now that she knows who she is, she is able to be happy and herself in all social situations.  She is also going to college and is quite content with her situation there.

Do you have any advice for little girls?

 “Always be yourself, forget social opinion and just be happy.”

RoY Interview 8:

I chose to interview someone who I went to high school with. Kirstin was in the very popular crowd and was very well liked. She was involved with many activities during high school and I thought it would be a good idea to see how her peer relationships shaped who she is today.

Interview questions and responses:

1) How do you think your peers in high school shaped who you are today?

“My peers in high school shaped me to be a better person. My peers actually showed me what not to do and who not to be. They showed me that you don't need to fit in and don't need to be a "cool" person because that wasn’t what life was all about. I learned from my peers that being who you are is all that is important and you really don't need to care about what other people think about you.”

2) How did you avoid dangerous and unhealthy activities that may be   associated with high school friends?

“I avoided these activities by associating myself with people that were not involved in these activities and who were into what I was into and not into what I wasn’t into.

3) What’s the best way to stay on the straight and narrow?

“The best way to stay straight and narrow is to always do the right thing. If in your heart says it is the right thing, then it probably is. Don’t let anyone push you around or bully you into doing something you don’t want to do.”

4) What opportunities did you take to help you make it to where you are now?

“I took as many opportunities as I possibly could. What you have to do is get out there and figure out what you want and what you don't want to do. That’s how these opportunities help you grow into the person you will be in the future. Without many opportunities, you cannot see the whole world. You can't experience life living inside a bubble.”

The best advice that I can offer is all very similar to what Kirstin had to say. BE YOURSELF. Don’t let anyone change who you are, or what your values are. Be true to yourself always and don’t think that you have to act a certain way just to fit in. You were made to be you and no one can change that. Friends will always come and go, I’ve learned this over my past few years of college. If your friends don’t like you because you won’t conform to what they think is “cool”, then they aren’t your true friends. A true friend will stand by your side no matter what and will always lend their shoulder to lean on. Always put 100% into everything you do, love and respect everyone and never take life for granted. If you can do all of that, there is no doubt in my mind that you’ll be successful.

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” – Steve Prefontaine

RoY Interview 9:

Mari is my best friend from high school. I always loved the time being with her. She taught me various things in life that made me myself. I remembered one time I was so depressed about not being able to live like I wanted. I was just dissatisfied and blamed everyone for it – my parents for the pressure and my brother for being gone. I wondered if it was me, would it be easier, for everyone. That was the time Mari showed me her diary. It might not be exactly a diary. It was a fairly small notebook of her full of quotes and sayings that she came crossed with. There were also her comments on them and her thoughts and feelings about different things in her life. I guess you can call it a diary after all. Mari carried the notebook with her all the time. She loved writing and she wrote down everything interesting in her notebook.

She told me it was ok to be depressed sometimes so I would be able to treasure happiness when it came. Mari was always like that, like my older sister – wiser and more mature since the first time I met her. But in her notebook, there were depression and sadness all over. I was surprised. I remembered Mari telling that she was just like others – insecure and jealous; wanted to find her identity but had no clue who she was; wanted to love and to be loved but scared of her heartbreaking. We have these thoughts, these moments. Therefore, I decided to interview Mari for this project and asked her to share her experience and to quote some of her writing in this paper so that the things that helped me once might be able to help someone else.

“02/01/05,

“What’s important is, no matter which paths you choose don’t use it as an excuse.”

We can’t tell the future, can we? The future is something scary yet exciting at the same time. Sometimes I wondered where I am going to. How the future will look like? Sometimes just the thoughts of it scare me. I’m afraid that it would be disappointing. The higher you raise your hopes, the greater the pain of disappointment is. But today, a friend reminded me that it is also true that the higher you raise your hopes, the happier you are when they come true. All along I’m just afraid of taking risks and that I cannot give have faith that they will turn out in my favor. But now I want to trust, to believe and to hope. Even with all the disappointment I can get, I still want to believe.”

Mari, like me before, had some clueless times when she didn’t know what to do. She was afraid of the future. We were always scared of the unknown. No one told Mari what she should be like – from which class to take in middle school, how to make friends, how to tell between good and bad people, and how others saw her and who she wanted to be. It could be all mysteries and we only had hope. But hope was more powerful than anything we can think of. Just keep your faith on growing greater and greater because you can never do anything without believing in it.

“27/11/07.

- “When we know that there’s land on the other side of the ocean, we can’t help but to set sail.”

Do others dream of being someone other than themselves? Someone who shines? I do. I wonder if everyone is that desperate or it is just me? Am I running away? Was I always running away? Am I lying to myself right now or was I lying to myself all the time? – About how strong I am and about not being jealous. I’m insecure even though I tried to convince myself that I’m not. I’m afraid that I’m not good enough. I’m scared that I’m really a failure. My fear of letting anyone see me, the boring me, the real me, made me hide my life away and lose myself. But I don’t want to just stop here, without even just one good fight. I cannot back down now when I didn’t even start to fight yet. Definitely cannot.”

When I interviewed Mari about this part of her notebook, she gave me a quote from one of her favorite movies that made her think for herself that time. The movie was not very related to Mari but just by watching someone else fighting, she wanted to do it herself – being out there even how scary it was and even no one saw her, at least she did fight. “They said they built the train track over these Alps between Vienna and Venice before there was a train that can make the trip. They built it anyway. They knew one day the train would come. Any arbitrary turning along the way and I would be else ware; I would be different.” (Frances - Under the Tuscan Sun)

“04/27/07,

Seasons come and go, so do people.
But people
change so you can learn how to let go
Things go wrong, so that you appreciate them when they're right
And sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. (Anonymous)”

Mari always had troubles with letting go. I guess it is one of the most difficult things for anyone to do. She could not let go of good memories or bad memories. She learned that it was just how everything works. She told me one of her experience of letting a friend go. It was also a lesson of kindness. Mari said she finally understood that people can only feel the kindness that comes from your heart. Mari failed to convince herself how kind she was to her friends even though she had so much evidences and witnesses. Deep down inside, she admitted that she was always jealous and could never bring herself to wish anything good for her friends. In the end, Mari’s act of kindness could never reach the other one. It never came from her heart.

“05/19/03,

-  Song of the night – “This Year Love”
Before I open up my arms
And fall losing all control
Every dream inside my soul
When you kissed me on that midnight street
Swept me off my feet…
I wonder how it would feel like – being swept off your feet?”

This is just a reminder that I found might be helpful for young girl like me - keep on dreaming and keep on loving. My friend, Mari offered several pieces of advices during the process of this interview. I hope that you find them useful. If you ought to make one, I would advise everyone to write – write down your thought on the things you see or read. I wish I did that earlier. You can build up your critical thinking and imagination. Just by jotting down random thoughts, you might come up with unexpected ideas and solutions for the problems in your life. It is a way to get to know you better – digging deep down inside yourself and finding all the answers within you.

RoY Interview 10:

I Interviewed my twin sister who is a Mount Union University graduate and a generator repair specialist in the United States Army. She is currently pursuing a career as a US. Army officer and she is the most self-confident, outgoing person I know.

When I asked her what adversities did she deal with in middle school and high school she replied refusing to fit into a mold determined by the popular students, having to work while in high school, and the lack of family money. In addition she said “In high school it is hard to decide what career choice you want in the future because you haven’t had enough time to determine the things you like and dislike yet.”

I next asked Kelsey if and how she overcame those adversities. She explained that she had to focus on herself and grow as a person. Also she separated herself from others in order to decide who she was and who she wanted to be. My sister also worked through high school and through college to earn her own money in order to buy the things she wanted, and to have some of her college expenses paid.

In addition, I asked Kelsey to tell me what she learned from having adversity in her life. She conversed that she learned to open herself up and not be emotionally shut off. She learned not to take people for face value. She learned that she needed to let people in before placing judgment. Her views on people and her relationships with people changed once she gained this knowledge. She says that she was able to have close friends who she really cared about. Also, she learned that she was glad that she was able to pay her own way through college and that doing so gave her pride and made her work harder in school.

Lastly, I asked my sister what advice she would give to someone facing the same issues and she had three responses. Don’t let people change you. Be yourself. Put yourself first.

RoY Interview 11:

My father went to high school in Boston Massachusetts at a place called BC High School. BC High is a Catholic high school that was at the time run and taught by priests. When the school opened in the early 1900s their mission was to help the sons of the Irish immigrants get an education. The official mission of the school had changed by the time my dad was in attendance in 1955, but there was still plenty of evidence of its former days.

My father was one of seven Italian boys from East Boston to attend the school. The majority of the other students were Irish, with parents who were doctors or lawyers. My father and the six other Italian boys were from lower income neighborhoods, and they did not share the privileges that their classmates were accustomed to. In fact, the only reason the East Boston boys were able to afford to attend BC High was because their grammar school church priest took an interest in their academic abilities and encouraged them to take the entrance exam to the school. When the priest received their good test results he contacted the priest in charge at BC High and convinced him to give the boys scholarships.

You could tell that the seven East Boston boys were of a different socio-economic status than the rest of their classmates by just looking at how they dressed. The school has a dress code of a blazer, tie and slacks, but even with this restriction there were subtle differences. The Italian boys’ pants were slightly slimmer cut than their Irish counterparts, and their jackets were more “rock-n-roll” style than the pressed, professional blazers the others wore. They would also comb back their hair so it slicked back and feathered at their neck.

My father stated that the only people at the school that made them really feel different were the priests. He senses that there were still roots in the pro-Irish past among the faculty. In addition to not being Irish, the boys were from East Boston, and BC High started in South Boston where the Irish lived. This created a bit of a rivalry in sports games. Another noticeable difference caused by the priests was related to college. All of the Irish boys were expected to go on to college after high school, but the same expectation was not held for the seven Italians. My father told me about a memory he has of asking one of his teachers if there was anyone he could talk to about going to college. The teacher simply replied “no.” Even the Italian boys in the honors classes were not encouraged to go to college.

College was not the only thing the priests did not help my father and his friends with. He also never received any extra help from the teachers, and was never given and advisor as the Irish boys were. Back then it was acceptable to hit students as a method of punishment, and my father remembers one priest in particular who implemented this tactic. He also remembers this priest only hitting a few boys in particular, including my father. Only two of the seven Italian boys went on to college, my father being one of them. Four of the seven still live in East Boston. My father knew he couldn’t afford college, so he went into the air force following graduation and got his education there, and following that.

A piece of advice that I would offer having listened to the stories my father told me is that you should never give in when you are faced with adversity. There may be people who afforded certain opportunities that you do not have, but this does not mean that you deserve any less. Hard work will pay off even when there are nay-sayers around you. It’s very unfortunate that my father and his friends were not encouraged to pursue their academic talents following high school, and that they were not aided in their school work the way the rest of their classmates were.

Its inspiring to look at all my dad was able to accomplish despite not coming from an affluent family. I hope that his story will encourage young students to strive to excel even if the road to graduation is difficult. A good education is a very valuable thing.

RoY Interview 12:

The transition from middle school to high school can be a really tough one for some people. A lot of changes will happen in other students, the teachers, the rules, and what is expected of you. You will learn a lot about yourself in those four years, like who you fit in with, what activities you enjoy most, what subjects you are really interested in, and possibly what you want to do as a career.  You will also learn about who your friends are and who you can really trust. Many mistakes will likely be made but they are not the end of the world, high school is only the beginning. This is my friend’s story about her struggles throughout high school.

All throughout middle school she was very quiet and she kept to herself, she had a few close friends but she was definitely not a “social butterfly”.  She always got really good grades and she had a relatively normal home life, her parents were both very loving and supportive of everything that she wanted to do. However, she wanted so badly to be more than she was, she wanted to be one of the popular girls that everyone knew and talked to, but she never had the courage to actually reach out and go after that goal. She decided that when she went to high school, everything would be different and she would be more popular. In order to do this, she joined as many clubs and sports as she could in high school so that she could meet more people and hopefully make more friends.

Things were going really well for her at first, she started making more friends and she quickly became one of the most popular girls in high school. She knew practically everyone because she was so involved but for the same reason she was overstretching herself and her grades started slipping. She didn’t have time to focus on her school work because she was always in practice, meetings or at events. Her parents became concerned and wanted her to drop some of her extracurricular activities so that she could focus on school more but she didn’t want to quit anything because she was afraid she would lose friends. Things continued to get worse for her and she was losing her drive to stay involved in both school and all her extracurricular activities. She was just exhausted all the time and she started skipping school and practices to sleep. With her grades dropping so drastically and now that she was skipping practices too, she was told she had to get her grades up or she would be forced to quit some of her extracurricular activities.

She wasn’t able to get her grades up in time to be able to stay as involved and she was kicked out of several of her activities. She in fact did end up falling out of touch with some of her friends and she was no longer one of the most popular girls in her school.  At the time, she thought this would be the end of the world. She didn’t see how she could possibly survive the rest of high school without having all her friends and her popularity. She never gave up though because she didn’t want to go back to being the shy and quiet girl and she eventually found the group of friends that she had the most in common with and that were there for her all the time.

After all was said and done, she realized that she didn’t need everyone in the school to be her friend and that she could have fun and be happy with her own smaller group of friends. Being one of the most popular girls at the school was no longer a standard that she felt she had to hold herself to and she found that she could balance school and extracurricular activities better without holding herself to that standard and that she was happier having a few close, true friends that were always there for her rather than a ton of social friends but no close friends.

RoY Interview 13:

Life's Not Always What You Expect

One of my very good friends, Erica, has had a difficult life to say the least.  She has struggled with her sexual identity and known throughout her life that she is a lesbian.  The following, is a narrative explaining her struggles throughout high school as well as some of the dialogue from our conservation.

Andrew:  I'll start us off with a very general question...Why was high school difficult for you?

Erica:  It was difficult because I was hiding myself from everyone.  I felt that my friends would ignore me or "de-friend" me because of my sexual preference. 

Andrew:  Now that you're "out", were your expectations different than the reaction you received?

Erica:  It was mixed.  My parents have always been very open minded, to say the least so there was never any tension there.  I had some friends who were not okay with it, but most of my friends didn't have a problem with me being a lesbian.

Andrew:  What advice can you offer to teens who are concerned about losing friends?

Erica:  High school sucks for a lot of people, you and I both know that. I have a few tips for teens who are conflicted with "coming out."  It's a big deal, I mean a lot of things could potentially go wrong but it's like lifting a giant weight off your shoulders.  That being said, you should never feel like you absolutely have to come out.  It will happen when it happens.  When you're ready to tell people, you'll know. 

Andrew:  A lot of teens today have a hard time looking past the present and seeing that things will get better.  I know I had that problem, is that something that you ever struggled with? 

Erica:  Oh of course.  When so many negative things are weighing you down, it's difficult to see positive things happening around you.  I think that a lot of people are too quick to medicate these kids too.  When I was put on anti-depressants, life was terrible for me.  They turned me into an emotionless freak.  I think "feeling" things out emotionally can really help.  Also, I think that one of the best things I ever did was asking my parents to get me a therapist.  Being able to talk to someone from a neutral perspective really helped me out and allowed me to see the big picture.

Erica is currently in college now and things definitely have gotten better for her.  Her message basically relays the idea to people that it does in fact get better after middle school or high school.  A lot of people are naive and judgmental during that time period and many of them maturate emotionally when they leave high school.  People aren't going to always accept your for who you are.  It's a fact of life and if some people do not wish to remain friends with you because of it, what kind of friend are they?  I've witnessed Erica going through her transition from being depressed to happy and it was not easy.  It's not meant to be, but the person that comes out on the other side is a strong individual who can do whatever they set their sights on.

RoY Interview 14:

I ran into some questions when trying to find a person I wanted to interview for this paper. I wanted to find a story that would be easy to relate to and one that spoke to me personally. After much consideration I decided that the best person to interview for this project would be my close friend, Connor. To most people Connor probably seems very normal. Connor was an active boy when we were young, he played Tee-Ball and Basketball, but his real love was football.

The issues with Connor began around Junior High. As all the other boys began to get taller and better at sports, Connor found that he wasn’t able to keep up with the boys his age. Connors parents just thought that he was being lazy and could keep up if he wanted to. The coaches thought the say way as his parents, so they pushed Connor, and kept pushing him, until one day was too far. Connor was running at the end or practice and was way behind the other boys. The coaches kept yelling at him to pick it up and run faster but Connor just couldn’t. Halfway done with the last sprint Connor just fell down. At first everyone believed that he had tripped over his shoe, but after a few minutes of calming Connor down he told his coach that he couldn’t run anymore because he hurt all over. The coach took this as him just being tired from practice and didn’t think anything of it.

After this episode, followed by many more similar circumstances, Connors parents began to think that something may be wrong. His mom made his yearly physical appointment, and decided to bring up the issue to his doctor. After the general evaluation, the doctor began to ask Connor different questions about where it hurt, what made it worse and so on. That doctor then referred them to another doctor that then referred them to another doctor. After a few months of running between appointments Connor found out what was causing his pain, JRA, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.

This was a shocking diagnosis to bother Connor and his family; they didn’t know what this meant for their little boy who had a love for sports. After doing research on the disease, the family found out that Connor could still play like a normal kid, but had limits that most children his age didn’t have.

As Connor entered high school, having JRA caused more and more issues.  Connor still wanted to be involved in sports at school, but was unable to do some of the things required such as the running and the weight lifting, so he found other ways to be involved. It was not too far into the season that Connor began getting teased for being the “water boy” or “bench wiper”. His classmates thought that because they couldn’t see what was wrong with Connor, it was all in his head. They thought he was faking. It took a big toll on Connor, his confidence and self-esteem went way down. A boy, who used to be so care free and happy, began to break down.

Connor’s coach began to see this change in Connor, and began hearing some of the snide remarks made. The coach pulled Connor aside and told him “The best thing to be in life is you, there is nothing better. All you can do is be the best you possible. Others will respect you when you respect yourself.” The coach also made a point to talk to the team about how real Connor’s disease was, and what it was actually doing to his body. After that, the comments began to stop; it almost went from bullying, to pitying Connor.

Connor soon caught on to what the other were thinking, he began to prove that he was just as normal as them, and could still do some of the same things they could. By the end of the season, Connor became a hero for the team. They all respected Connor for who he was.

When learning about his story, I immediately thought, how many people can relate to having JRA? But then I thought about the bigger picture. Connor had to accept himself for who he was, he had to make the best of this situation. If you ever find yourself in a position where you feel less than or inadequate, remember all you can do is be the best you possible, accept your flaws for that’s that makes you who you are.

RoY Interview 15:

I chose to interview my mother.  We had a lot to talk about because I was very curious about her childhood.  Although my mother and I are close, I have never gotten a chance to talk intimately with her about her childhood.  We talked about her relationships with her peers and her family.  It was interesting to talk with her about her family and academics. Along with academics, she told about her college experience.  Lastly, my mother told me how she felt about herself and I was lucky enough that she decided that she wanted to give me some pieces of advice to share with other young ladies.

The first questions dealt with how were her relationships with her peers were while she was growing up.  Michele, my mom, was shy when she first entered into school but was easily brought out of her shell.  She talked about making friends as early as kindergarten; those friends mostly consisted of neighborhood kids. My mother talked about playing outside with her friends and running around.  Surprisingly the best times of my mother’s life were throughout middle school and high school.  She loved being with her friends who pushed her into joining activities.  This made her love school even more! Most of her friends were Catholic and they all went to Sunday school together.  A sad point in her life was when she had to go off to college and leave her high school friends.  She often missed them when she was away at school. She grew to realize when everyone was home for summer that everyone grows apart easily

After asking her about her relationships with her peers, I began to grow curious about her relationships with her family members.  The kindest people she had in her life that were family members where her grandparents and her aunts.  Her mother was not always the kindest to her and this still upsets her to this very day.  She remembers telling her mother that she was “last on her list” and this was when she received one of her worst spankings.  My mother’s parents gave her chores.  She had to do the dishes, clean her room, and the worst for her was cleaning her closet.  When she had to clean her closet, she remembered that it caused many fights.  My mom never received allowance for her chores and she continued that tradition with her own children.  Her family believes that the whole family has to chip in and it is for the common good of the family’s well-being, not for an extrinsic reward.  Her favorite person in her family was her Grandma Wilda. Wilda was her favorite because she was always kind, never mad, very consistent, extremely patient, smart- if she was sick her grandma knew the instant remedy. She knew how to cook, and she was an upbeat person even when she became deathly ill.  Every time my mom had an argument with her mother she could turn to her grandmother to have support.  This influenced her childhood by giving her a support system even when she did not have one at home.  Her grandparents were her rock as she grew up and were always there for her.  She discovered she was no longer a child anymore whenever she had to mourn the passing of her last grandparent.  In my mother’s eyes she had no one else on earth to turn to and she had to rely fully on herself.

After talking about her family we dove into her academics.  My mom’s start to school was a difficult one she was young for her grade and she struggled up until her second grade year with the most basic things.  She remembers clinging to her grandmother’s leg when she was getting dropped off for preschool because she did not want to go.  She remembers her mother telling her that her teacher sent a note home telling her that she was too immature and that she should consider holding her back so that she could catch up to her peers emotionally.  Reading was her favorite subject growing up.  She always loved to read!  She was never able to do well in math.  Her difficulties in math still impact her today.  She is afraid that next year she will have to teach math and this has her upset and nervous.  She still struggles with percentages today, but her good reading skills followed her to college.

College was the most interesting subject I got to interview her about since I am at that age.  She loved college and being involved but it was hard for her.  She got obsessed with getting straight A’s.  The college she chose to go to was really big.  It was very hard for her to find her classes and she often got lost.  She got home sick and was sad. She went to college three hours away from home.  The time she felt most alone in her life was during college.  She was not able to visit her family, was surrounded by buildings, and had millions of new faces in her presence.  She knew she wanted to be a teacher since she was little and her family gave her no choice but to go to college.  My mom loved her classes and she knew that teaching was her calling.  She loves her job to this day and she knows that she excels at it.

After college and growing up, my mother shared with me about how she saw herself.  I was happy to see that she has always considered herself a hard worker.  She still believes that she carries that trait with her today. Along with her hard working characteristic, she says she always tries her best no matter what she does.  This is funny to me because I know she always has to try to win the Wii games we play, pick the most weeds out of the garden, and have the highest testing children in the district.  She has told me that she has learned from her mistakes and her choices in life.  I feel like she is protective of me and does not want me to have to go through what she has gone through.  Her goal is to obtain more balance and happiness in the future.

Her last words to me were words of advice.  Health is the most important thing in your life.  You have to take care of your body; if you don’t, nothing else even matters.  She learned from her grandparents, who were Italian immigrants that hard work pays off. My mom talked about breaking your work into chunks.  Her words were, “Cut your work into small pieces.  Only take a bite at a time and make sure you chew before you swallow.”  She has seen her entire family bust their butts and reach amazing achievements. My mom also shared the importance of saving money.  You cannot get far in the world if you are not able to support yourself.  You need to stay in the moment as much as you possibly can because each moment of your life is a gift you can never reopen. Don’t let other things cloud your mind when you are working on something in the here and now.  Lastly, balance your life as much as possible.  Get in the habit so that whenever you are old like me it just comes naturally.

RoY Interview 16:

For the interview I chose to interview a close friend.  I’ll keep the name anonymous for confidential purposes.  My first reflection was about breaking the rules and your parents trust, and then trying to re-build that relationship. 

When asked about her relationship with her parents, there wasn’t much rule breaking on her part.  One thing stuck out in her mind and that was getting caught cheating on a Spanish exam.  She was cheating because her made said she HAD to pass the class.  But after getting caught she was grounded for the entire summer and had to clean the dog kennel the entire time.  She remembers it being one of the worst things ever. 

One thing that stuck out in her mind of the two of them doing was always fighting and waking up the younger kids.  Her mother would be furious with them.  Once the kids woke up the fighting usually came to an end for the moment.  Although, her sister did a few mischievous things.  Her sister got caught sneaking out a few times.  After getting caught she spent a lot of her time grounded.

When she was able to actually leave the house, she would more than likely miss curfew.  She had decided that if she was going to be late, she was going to be more than just a few minutes late.  Her sister sure learned that thinking like that was a mistake.  The longer she was out the harsher her punishment was. 

The sister I interviewed couldn’t really understand why her sister felt the need to continue to break the rules.  She felt that her sister spent more time grounded or in trouble than she did running around with friends. 

As the sisters grew up, the mischievous one matured quite a bit.  She began looking at things the way her sister did.  They grew much closer and problems within the family weren’t as prevalent.  With her sister behaving that was one less they were able to argue/fight about.

RoY Interview 17 (AHS only):

For my interview I chose to interview my boyfriend’s sister, she is a graduate from Alliance High School and has experienced a lot in her life, especially in high school. She is a strong woman and that is why I chose to interview her.

When you were in middle school/high school were you the bully or the bullied?

I was bullied through middle school because I guess you could say I was a “goth”, but once I got to high school it seemed like the cool girls took me under their wing.  I’m not sure if they did this because I was starting to get some attention from the boy’s, but they made me over and pretty much turned me into a different person.  I conformed to their idea of a good time, which was making everyone feel lesser than us. Looking back I wish I would have spoken up, I knew it was not right, I mean I already knew what it felt like to be picked on and yet I still did it to others.  They are still my best friends today, but I wonder where I would be today if I would have just kept to myself.

Why do you think you conformed to the “it” crowd?

Well, a lot of things were going on in my life at home. My dad lost his job due to alcoholism and abuse of prescription drugs, while my mother was trying to keep her business afloat and keep her family normal at the same time.  There was so much fighting and it was such a hostile environment to be in that I guess making others feel like crap made me feel better.  I guess that’s why I am still so bitter to this day, people are afraid of me but I am really a harmless girl who keeps all of her emotions to herself. I felt like and I still feel like I have to be the hard/strong one of the family, I couldn’t let my little brother see me break just like the rest of his family.

Did you have a problem with drugs and/or alcohol?

Yes, not until I was like 16 and could get away from my house, but I was all over prescription drugs, only because it was so easy for me to get. It was such an awesome escape from real life that it just consumed my life there for a while. 

What compelled you to go to college?

When my rich friends were applying to colleges it got me to think, what am I going to do?  I can’t just take over my mom’s business without a degree; I pretty much can’t do anything without? a degree. So I found it in myself to find the resources I need to get myself into college. I did this all on my own. I just knew it was something I had to do. Now that I’m in college I found it hard to pick my major, but I really want to help those who are dealing with what I did. That’s why I chose psychology, so I could understand why we are the way we are.

How do you see yourself now? Are you still a bully?

I’m only a bully to my brother hah, I have definitely found myself through all this chaos, I may to come off as mean, but only to hold my ground because even though I am an adult there are still bullies out there.  I’m a stronger person today and I don’t let anyone push me around, but I know when I take things too far and I can stop myself.  I don’t want anyone to feel the way I did in school.

Do you have any advice for girls who may be experiencing what you did?

I’m probably not the best person to get advice from, but I would want the girls to know that what is on their mind and what is the most important thought in their head (which is most likely boys/drinking/and just fitting in) is not important at all.  One year out of high school you will realize what life is all about, depending on your experiences, but it’s amazing how much your priorities change after high school. My best advice would be to just buckle down and focus on your school work, even though they have probably heard this a million times, but your grades will affect you throughout your whole life. You can have fun above the influence, find a hobby, get into it, and forget about what other people say because the best way to anger your bully is to just ignore them and you “do you”.

RoY Interview 18 (AHS Only):

Friendship

I interviewed Lauren about overcoming friends that, in the end, weren’t real friends.

What were the things that hurt the most that this person did?

Tyler would always expect things from me that I wasn’t always supposed to do, then he would blow me off, and then he would talk about me behind my back. Even though he talked about me behind my back he never lied about it, but still (after he hurt my feelings) would still expect things that I did for him. He had double standards; he would want things from me that I would never ask from someone else. Actually I found out that he was bipolar after we weren’t friends anymore. He would do things for no reason, one day we were fine, then the next day we weren’t fine. No fights really, but there were times when we weren’t okay. He also would blame things on me that weren’t my fault at all.  

How did you deal with the issues?

In the beginning, I took the blame, like I wasn’t a good enough friend. Once I realized that he had issues, I felt like there wasn’t anything I could do.

Was there ever a situation that you stuck up for Tyler around others (when he wasn’t there also)?

When my mom would say Tyler was being mean to me, I always told them that “everyone makes mistakes” almost sticking up for him being mean to me.

How do you feel about Tyler today?

I feel sorry for him, I feel like he is not going to be able to have stable relationships (of any kind) because he doesn’t honor that relationships are two-way streets and is always looking to gain, not give. I, for the most part, have just forgot about him. If he died I would be upset, but I feel like I could move on. If he won the lotto I wouldn’t be excited for him either. He is a thing of my past, he doesn’t affect my day to day life, but he did have an effect on my past.

Do you feel like you are more selective about the kind of people that you let into your life now because of Tyler?

Yeah, for sure because even though I don’t judge people because of what he did, I don’t want to get back into something like that.

Were there any issues that Tyler helped you through?

Tyler helped me with Mitch, a boy I had a thing for and was really good friends with. We had a bad falling out because of the lack of communication (something that looked like a lie, when it wasn’t, immature on both sides, broken trust). Tyler was there (sometimes) because he listened to what I had to say. He tried, and it seemed like he cared. It showed that one day he really cared, then the next day he wouldn’t be.

Positive things that have come from the situation

I feel like I have helped people get through similar situations because I can step back and look at what is happening to other people and get them out before something happens that is “too damaging”. It also helped me to realize that “who cares” when people want to hurt you. Let them go. 

HOW DID YOU DO IT?

This was not something that happened all at once. There was a “straw that broke the camel’s back.” Tyler was friends with me one day, then the next he was a complete jerk, and said that we “weren’t on the same page” and I was fed up at that point. I realized that if people don’t like me for who I am, then there is no reason for me to be treated like crap. Every day I went to bed at night that I didn’t text him or talk to him, I felt like I was a lot stronger than the day before. I had to pull away from him, not just say we weren’t friends anymore. I had to just get away from him.

When he tried to make up with me five months after the last time we talked I felt like I almost won. But, I wrote back eventually \and kind of gave in. So the table turned, and I told him the ball was in his court and he would have to try. He called a lot and wanted to make an effort. But it eventually died off, and when he did it the second time, I felt like it had already happened before and I was just fine.

What lessons do you think you learned from Tyler and the way that he treated you?

It has made me a stronger person, and that I wasn’t at fault. I feel like I was too hard on myself in the beginning. Just because people are bad to you doesn’t mean that you’re not a good person, but that they have something going on with them. In the beginning I took a lot of the blame for everything, but in the end I realized that I did everything I could, and that there are some things that you can’t control.

What do you recommend to other’s going through friendship problems?

Sometimes people can say things that are hurtful, but you shouldn’t take things too personal and to heart. Don’t let other people’s negative comments effect who you are. You should be able to get out of relationships that are harmful to you. If someone isn’t a good friend, don’t let that be in your life. Because it puts you in a different place than where you could be if you were surrounded in positive energy, all in all, don’t get wrapped up in something that brings you down, there is a point that you will find out if someone is genuine or not. It’s not worth it to be used for something and downgraded at the same time. It goes the same for relationships, if someone isn’t good for you, they are only going to hold you back.

Do you think talking about situations helps the healing process?

Yes, because It gives you different perspectives of the situations and if the other person is looking out for your best interest, then they are going to listen and try to get it all laid out on the table and look at it on the broad spectrum of things.

RoY Interview 19:

RoY Interview 20:

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