Story 00: Prelude

03/26/18

Inspired by Kanye West’s graduation album, I have created my own Graduation album of my favorite memories from college in conjunction with my 13 favorite grad pics. Stay tuned for the stories over the next 13 days.

#GradStory #GaryGradStory

Story 01: Minute By Minute

03/27/18

Minute By Minute, Hour By Hour if you lose your history you lose your power, Minute By Minute, Hour By Hour…

Every story has a beginning middle and an end; College life for me began with reciting that mantra every morning for 5 weeks during the Academic STARS program. A program focused on helping African American students transition from high school to college that occurs before fall classes even start. There are endless stories I could tell from the constant screaming of “She gon she gon she gon shake it like red nose” from my roommate Cameron to the famous “super curve” that Vince performed. This story is actually about how a little discovery leads myself and others to get into a lot of trouble.

I’ve always been a curious kind of guy so in the dorm we were staying in I found my way to the top of the stairs where I discovered the door to the roof. You would think that the door was locked but by chance it was open. I preceded to check out the roof and even took a few pictures for my memories, but of course, I lost those pictures. Anyway, I was so excited about being up there and seeing the view that I had to tell someone. Little did I know that when I told a few of my other STARS brothers and sisters they would use the roof for more than just the view. To this day I still have no idea what exactly happened up there but soon after they were caught by our mentors, which meant trouble for all 25 of us.

On the same night that they were caught, Vince and I broke a major rule as well but our mentors didn’t know about that. It was about 3am when all 25 of us were called into the community room where two of the mentors were yelling at everyone because they knew about the roof situation. The mentors asked for those responsible for breaking any rule to come forward and speak because of not then we would be in more trouble. As mentioned before I broke a rule earlier that night but didn’t know that the meeting was just about the people on the roof.

All four of the students who were on the roof admitted it and the mentors asked if there was anyone else who needed to come forward. I panicked and snitched on myself and Vincent because I was nervous about the trouble we’d be in if I didn’t speak up. The mentors were surprised and told me that they didn’t even know but it was too late at that point. The program seeks to unite all of the students, so usually we would have all been in trouble but special circumstances called for a different approach. We all got in trouble and had to do something but I just remember Vince and the rest of them saying how stupid I was for snitching on myself. I still laugh at it even today as I write this first story.

Check out the picture from Graduation day of me looking extremely confused. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s story “Champion”

#GradStory #GarysGradStory

Story 02: Champion

03/28/18

grad1.jpgAs I mentioned yesterday every story has a beginning middle and end. While yesterday was about the beginning, today is mostly about the end. Being a Champion has meant being the best of the best, doing what it takes to be number 1; doing what others can’t do. As an African American male at a PWI being a champion is battling through all the adversity, obstacles, & distractions to reach the finish line. To graduate and walk across that stage is becoming a champion. This story is mostly a reflection of my final semester at WVU.

I found myself in an uncomfortable living situation, 18 credit hours, and two demanding jobs. I was constantly stressed and overwhelmed while I was trying to balance my work, school, and personal life. I struggled to keep up with assignments, side projects, and even work some days. I’ve always been really stubborn about not giving up and pushing through but I can honestly say I made a lot of mistakes by taking on so much, but understanding the mistakes that I have made and using that to make better decisions is what helped push me past that finish line and reach Graduation. Champion!

Check out the picture from Graduation day of me as I felt the Champion vibes Stay tuned for tomorrow’s story “Stronger”

#GradStory #GarysGradStory

Story 03: Stronger

03/29/18

As you navigate college you become more aware of who you are every day. You become a stronger version of yourself and you grow closer to becoming the person you want to become. While most of these stories are about my time in school, tonight’s story is about the summer after my freshman year where I spent time in San Marcos, Texas.With a school organization called LEAD, my mentor and really close friend Jaiana Francis talked me into doing an internship with her and a few other WVU students. We drove 18 hours down to Austin, Texas for an internship with Southwestern Advantage to sell books. Yes, I said books. We went door to door to sell books for Kids from Pre-K to Seniors in high school. The group of about 12 of us stayed at different host family homes for a small fee or free in some cases. I worked Monday thru Friday  8am-6pm and Saturdays the whole group would meet up. My assignment was in I San Marcos, Texas, home of Texas State University just an hour south of Austin. My group included Anthony Hendrickson and Houston Brautigan.

Grad Pic

Bow Ties work

Every morning I would wake up at 7am, take a cold shower to wake my body up, and then ride with Houston or Anthony to the breakfast spot. Since I didn’t have a car I got dropped off in the morning and picked up at night. The days were long and hot. I would march through neighborhoods all day with a satchel full of sample books and my lunch knocking on every door that I could. I learned quickly that walking on foot every day was harder than it seemed. I only brought 2 pairs of low-top vans with me to Texas, which ended up being a big mistake. By the third week, I had swollen ankles and could barely walk. I had my mom to send me a pair of basketball sneakers I had at home. I worked hard but faced a lot of adversity in the process. The heat, the physical toll on my body, and of having to deal with all types of people. I got doors closed in my face, yelled at, and even had the police called on me once. However, I also got meals prepared, a chance to ride in a supercar, and met some great families. It was an eye-opening experience for me I grew a lot. Every day was harder than the last but I pushed as far as I could and walked almost the whole city of San Marcos expect the TSU campus. I learned a lot that summer I kept an open mind and always gave my best me at every house even when I constantly got no’s. I look back at now and realize that because it was so hard and trying that it pushed me to become a stronger person and better leader. In the end, I was just happy to leave Texas, and for a long time I hated the whole summer but reflection makes you appreciate the toughest challenges. Stronger

Tomorrow’s story is “I Glo’d up” stay tuned!   

#GradStory #GarysGradStory

Story 04: I Glo’d up

03/30/18

Before today’s story, I want to thank all of my followers for taking the time read to my stories and like my posts. I hope you enjoy today’s story!

FullSizeRender 2.jpg

Entering college in 2013 I came from wearing school uniforms my whole life, I rarely partied or went out, so I had absolutely no style. I was rocking “moto” brand jeans and shirts from Burlington. I had no game with girls and no real sense of trends or style. I had an accent that made me sound country and  Looking back I would go to class in baggy sweatpants, go out in Pacsun hoodies, and let not even get started on my hair. As my friends, Justin or Shawn would say I was “Dust”. However, I have to thank all of my friends who cooked off on me and made fun of my style or else I might not have ever begun my glow up.

It all started the second semester of freshman year with a pair of the Powder Blue Air Jordan 10’s and a matching hat. I never had a pair of retro Jordan’s growing up, so in my early hype beast days thought I was doing something when I walked around the corner of the blue and gold rooms in Towers to meet up with my friends before a step show. I walked so confidently and with what I thought was so much swag but I took me a whole but learned that it was just corny. However it was all apart of the process, so look back and laugh at it. I never I found myself confused and caught up in what other people thought. I focused on buying from expensive clothing brands because I thought it would make me seem more trendy or attractive. Over the next year or so I continued to get more invested in fashion, trends, more hype beast happy activities like buying Jordan’s, and other unnecessary purchases for a college student. I always had a job while in school, so having spending money wasn’t much of an issue.  P.S. I should have been saving my money. It wasn’t until after the Adidas Yeezy Boosts began to drop did I begin to lose my concern with all the hype. I spent so much time trying to be first to a Thursday Supreme drop or raffle ticket sign up that I got sick of it. Oh, and of course I try buying a pair of Yeezys from a third party source only to later find out that they were fakes….money wasted. I was tired of all the hype. I was tired of wasting money and following what everyone else was doing instead of focusing on what I wanted to represent. I began to build my own style regardless of what other people thought. I sold all of my Jordans and decided to dress, talk and be my own best me. This story isn’t about me completely glowing up because I’m on at like 17%. I am grateful that college elevated me to a new level and can’t wait to see how that transfers to the professional world.

#GradStory

Story 07: Can’t Tell Me Nothing

I had a bad start to 2017 from day 1. I got myself into a bad situation in DC, I was disappointed that I could n’t afford to study abroad, my emotions were all over the place with a breakup hanging over me, and my little brother getting sick. Making the second semester of my fourth year spring 2017 was one of my most challenging semesters. I needed to overcome the adversity set before me with hard work and discipline. I worked harder than any other semester ever. While taking 18 credit hours (including a capstone level course), I also decided to take on 4 jobs, and a marketing coordinator position for a school short film festival. I originally planned to be on a study abroad trip in London with Shawn for the semester, but the program cost $10,000 dollars. I didn’t receive a marque scholarship that would have helped pay for a majority of the trip, and my parents couldn’t afford to help me either. Because I planned on going abroad I told my jobs at the time that I would be on campus the following semester. When plans were spoiled late in the Fall 2016 semester I needed to figure out what classes I would be taking and where I would work since I still had to pay rent. Scheduling the classes was the easy part, but the change adjusted my graduation timetable from Spring 2018 to Fall 2017. I enrolled in my final interactive design for media course which was a culminating game design course. Little did I know that I would be extremely demanding, but also enlightening. At the beginning of the semester, my roommate Vince and I both needed jobs. I already had met work study with the Women’s Soccer Team(1) but needed something with more hours. We scoured campus to find ourselves at Evansdale Crossing, at the brand new student union like building on the Evansdale campus. I applied to several of the food establishments and ended up getting hired at Panini Pete’s (2) on the 5th floor to cook in the back. I wasn’t ecstatic about It but A job with a lot of hours is a plus. All while I was waiting to start that job, I applied to be a graphic designer at the Postnet (3) shipping store on the third floor. I never planned on having even three jobs but I realized that they could all help me work harder to overcome my adversity. I decided in late January that since I couldn’t study abroad for the semester, I would do a spring break study abroad. Remember how I sold all my Jordans? It was for this trip. I used that money and the money I earned from working visit London for a week on a cultural excursion multimedia trip. However, my Game Design class had a few tricks up its sleeve that landed me a videography job with the WVU LaunchLab (4), the student business start up center. Before long I found myself struggling to keep up with working and maintaining classwork. Every job required such different things from me that sometimes I had to ignore one job completely for an extended period of time. I’m mostly speaking about the work study with the Women’s Soccer team. Everyone told to me to take a load off and relax, but I was having the time of my life during all the chaos, but as the title of this story goes I wasn’t hearing it. I worked so hard that it propelled me into an awesome super internship position. I thought I would burn out but in reality, I only made strides every week. Not only did I manage to push through the semester I learned how to maintain my emotions. Looking back on the whole semester I finished with a 3.0, but I can only be proud of what I was able to do. At the end of the day, you can’t tell me nothing.