One of the biggest realizations I had during my time at Brandeis came while taking Professor Wallace’s class, Sociology of Race, Gender and Class.
The class used a variety of media to analyze how race, class and gender as axes of identity and inequality create, and even recreate, forms of domination and subordination in schools, labor markets, families, and the criminal justice system. It was in this class that I was able to learn about the term intersectionality.
As most of you probably know by now, intersectionality, in its most straightforward form, refers to the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage. After quite some time of self-evaluation, I was able to own the word. Intersectionality is more than just a buzzword; it is a way of life, and one of the only things I can do is to accept it and help others realize the strength that comes from that word. Under-represented students currently facing the effects of their unique, personal intersectionalities need to understand that there are resources out there for them.
I don’t mean to sound preachy or anything like that; I know I am not the only one who has had this realization. However, it is important for me to provide under-represented students with the tools to succeed in our current society. I feel that I was very fortunate during my high school years to have been guided throughout the entire college enrollment process. I am also aware that not every student is presented with such an opportunity.
This is the reason why I believe BridgeYear’s work is truly important. At BridgeYear, rather than concentrate on the overly supported top 25% of students, we place our resources on the other 75% of students. These are the students that are often times forgotten because they do not take AP classes, perform the best on their tests, or participate in a number of clubs. Through personal one-on-one advising, we make sure our students understand the exact steps necessary in order to either enroll into community colleges or partake in apprenticeship programs.
Even though I have only been advising students for about a month now, I already feel like I am having an impact on them. A good number of our students have been very grateful for the tips and reminders they receive from the BridgeYear team of advisors. I am delighted to say that I feel as if I am walking the same steps my mentors took in order to guide me to where I am now. My only hope is that the students I am advising realize their potential and become the kind of young professionals our society truly needs.