When I look back at my previous three years attending Utah Valley University, there are many moments to choose from as the most “life-changing” — I’ve covered countless athletic events, done plenty of postgame interviews and have seen many back-and-forth games come down to an epic finish.
When I think of the most important experiences I’ve had as a Wolverine — I think of none of these things.
My thoughts immediately turn to my first days in a college newsroom, being taken aback by the fact that for one of the first times in my life I was surrounded by a highly diverse group of people. Although Springville, Utah, was a wonderful mountain community to be raised in, diversity wasn’t really the name of the game in Red Devil country.
The Review newsroom itself has provided countless memories and lifelong friendships, but a singular life altering moment? I can think of a few:
After attending a student journalism conference, I offered to give a coworker a ride home from the airport. Over the course of an hour long car ride, he explained to me what it was like to be a Black man living in the United States.
My perspective and thoughts on the matter have never been the same.
I also can’t help but think of working as a UVU deadshift custodian, standing alongside a plethora of international students paying their way through school. No matter who I was talking to, whether they were from Australia, Kenya, South Korea, Canada, etc., I always came away with an enhanced perspective and greater understanding of what life was like for those surrounding me.
These experiences also forced me to recognize that I undoubtedly have had, and continue to have, certain privileges in my life that many other people in this country do not.
My advice to you?
Use your time as a college student to surround yourself, listen to and learn from people who come from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures. Attend campus events and become involved with departments, groups and student organizations that promote understanding and diversity. Take the time to educate yourself on various social and racial issues that affect the lives of your fellow Wolverines daily.
I will forever be grateful for the time I’ve spent on the sidelines, in the locker room and on press row. For all of the blocked shots, big goals and game winners — my time as a sports journalist at UVU has been anything but boring.
However, the one thing UVU has provided that I am by far the most grateful for: an increased and heightened understanding of those who walk next to me.
I have no clue what sports will entail come fall semester. However, I do know that there are voices that have yet to be heard, stories that have yet to be told and perspectives that have yet to be understood.
For those who are about to step onto — literally or virtually — UVU campus: take it upon yourself to be a positive force for change. Now is a great time to listen to the voices of your classmates, cultivate mutual understanding and actively seek ways to make a difference.
Finally, for those who have allowed me to listen, learn and grow from your personal stories, experiences, challenges and daily struggles: thank you.