An interview with an anonymous Black alumni

Teya Pamela Searles

MiraCosta College is a proving ground for students from all walks of life. The institution itself champions ideologies that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in all manners of education and livelihood.

In a utopian society, these qualities are a given in any postsecondary institution, but issues of racial equity is an ongoing issue that many schools have yet to grasp (or act like they don’t).

Many look to surveys and public meetings to address these issues, but when all is said, the individuals whose voices were so eagerly awaited, constitute for nothing more than an asterisk.

Higher education provides crucial formative years for many individuals, regardless of age, gender, race, sexuality, socioeconomic standing, etc.

The intersectionality that exudes on a college campus can be overwhelming for many, but when thought of to be one of many driven, educated, and (most importantly) valued persons who are paying for either socioeconomic upward mobility or a checkmark on an already prominent pedigree, the sense of being a part of something bigger than yourself is desirable for many. Because for many, they have never been a part of the bigger picture.

The term “melting pot” comes into mind when I think of a college campus. A term closely associated with the United States of America, the beacon of freedom and justice for all who pledge their allegiance (results may vary).

In theory, a melting pot is ideal in a utopian society, where all can thrive and support one another. But the term within the U.S. is nothing more than a coded method of saying assimilation. In order to have, you must assume the values, behaviors, and ideology of the majority, and then you can prosper (results may vary).

Cultural assimilation is a staple in many western societies, and is no different within institutions that educate said societies.

Minority groups have lacked representation in higher education, but I would be amiss to say that it has not gotten better. It exponentially has. For many.

But not for those whose sacrifices still outweigh any of their fruits of labor. Fruit that everyone else gets to enjoy.

Black Americans are the catalyst for any change, IN THE WORLD!

Civil rights, LGBTQ+ rights, pop culture, art/music, etc. Black Americans were always there first, because they were the ones taking the full brunt of all injustices that plagued this country.

I am reluctant to say “we”, as I am Black, but I have done nothing to cement myself among real activists except for being a fiend on Twitter.

Black Americans are the reason why our campuses can look as colorful as they do, and that long history of political action has yet to cease. The fight to desegregate schools, Affirmative Action, advocacy of OTHER minority groups, Black Americans have done it all, and have got nothing in return.

The barriers that are still put in place for many Black students are all well documented. From being underrepresented at some of the top public universities in the state of California, homelessness, to microaggressions, Black students have gained nothing but a degree, a piece of paper that still won’t guarantee a free, prosperous, and safe life.

After many attempts to find interviewees, one MiraCosta College alumni was able to give their account of their experiences at MiraCosta College. Why anonymous? Well…why not?

My own personal contacts were uneasy of being featured by name in any publication. Why? Well I did not ask, but it can be assumed that sharing their experiences can have negative repercussions in both their professional and private life. At least that is what this interviewee alluded to.

Another question: Why only one interview? Well, one story should be enough to get a glimpse into the good and the challenges in the classroom.

The Interview:

What is your graduation class?

Class of 2018

What are you passionate about in life? What do you like to do?

I’m passionate about things that make me happy like reading, writing and community.

How was your experience being a Black student at MiraCosta College, or being a postsecondary student in general?

The classes I’ve taken at MiraCosta College were good. Most instructors I took were above average and cared about what their students were learning and how they were learning the material. There are still some instructors who don’t know they’re culturally insensitive or incompetent such as singling out or treating non-white students or international students differently than white students. Even though I was older and had more work experiences than many other students, because I’m Black, I didn’t get a break from instructors just getting a paycheck or subscribing to obsolete and ineffective teaching methods. This isn’t different from other colleges since I’ve been to a lot of community colleges and universities. I know in classes, I don’t get as many questions when getting to know other students in the group, or it’s expected that I’m not going to contribute, or I’m verbally bullied or intimidated by the instructors and students. Most people already talk down to me because of my appearance, including instructors. All in all, there’s still a long way to go to improving higher education at any institution to make experiences more positive than just a checkmark on a transcript.

What did you do after graduating MiraCosta College?

Still working full time, so aside from having an additional degree to my bachelor’s degree, not much has changed.

What advice can you give to incoming and current Black/African students at MiraCosta College?

Don’t wait for someone else to do things for you. Become independent and learn how systems work while picking up real skills, not just typing fast or texting. A lot of what I see being a higher ed employee is that most students wait for things to happen, expecting their problems to be solved automatically, versus being proactive and solving problems before they become problems. Oh, and read! Don’t forget to read! Even instructors and working adults don’t read, and deadlines that aren’t flexible pass in the blink of an eye. I’m not talking about just books but emails and texts and those micro-communications.

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So there, you have it. One of many experiences. Maybe you can relate, maybe you can’t. But this, and various other accounts are still valid. And should be taken into consideration by students, faculty, and administration.

Which is a shame that this even has to be said.


3/5/2022 – 67 Views – 5 Likes – 1 Comment