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Beyond the Bell Tower – Season 4

Episode 38: Grace Anning Yoshihara

Grace fantasized about celebrating her graduation from NC State from the first day on campus. It was the graduation ceremony that motivated her to devote every hour of each day to earning her degree with high grades and working three jobs. Her graduation ceremony remains a fantasy as the ceremony was cancelled due to Covid-19 circumstances. Grace graduated in May 2020 with a B.S. degree from The Poole College of Management. She has remained at NC State pursuing a graduate degree in Global Luxury Management. She details her strategies in facing hardships such as physical fatigue and developing her identity as a successful woman. Grace shares her life-long passion for Disney beginning with watching all the Disney movies with her mom in Ghana. She has a deep connection to Stitch from “Lilo and Stitch” as she was mischievous as a child. During her time at NC State she landed her dream Disney internship. How to build credit as a college student to be able to buy a car with no family support is super helpful. The episode ends with her sharing her experiences being hungry and homeless during her college career and developing a support system as she had no family to rely on. Grace will be your role-model for sustaining your motivation and commitment to earning a degree while only having herself to rely on.

Listen to Grace’s Interview

Episode 39: Toinette Powers, Brianna McCray, and Isaiah Akridge

Toinette, Brianna and Isaiah sat down in Summer 2020 to discuss current issues including the Black Lives Matter movement. They looked into changes at the university and what could be done to better African Americans’ experience at NC State University and what programs and initiatives that could be put into place to make steps forward into furthering the diversity at the university. Focusing on how the university can improve long-term and increase diversity in not only the student population but in administration and faculty positions is one of many topics discussed in this podcast. Toinette, Brianna and Isaiah are also members of the Caldwell Fellowship program and talked about being a member of Caldwell has helped them and can continue to help them succeed.

Listen to the Interview

Episode 40: Abriana Johnson

TRIO Alum Abriana Johnson shares exciting news with the growth of her company being able to quit her “day job” to focus full-time on Black Unicorn Creative LLC a creative solutions firm that helps businesses in the horse industry establish their digital hoof print and show up for their community online This summer, she was sought out by the New York Times and other media outlets for expertise on diversity in the equestrian industry. Abriana is the author of the Cowgirl Camryn children’s book series following an African-American girl who is passionate about animal husbandry and farm-life and she is a host of the popular podcast Young Black Equestrians As an Animal Science major at NC State (2010-2014) Abriana’s passion for horses, veterinary medicine, and being in charge was unbridled. Going to Vet School was her primary goal, however, when she was denied in her first attempt she pivoted and the rest is history!

Abriana wants listeners to learn a few things from the episode:

  • Don’t be afraid to pivot in your life plan. No one is in control of your outcomes but you.
  • You can be multi-passionate and still be successful. Figure out how to make your passion work for you.
  • Balance doesn’t exist, only prioritizing for the moment.
  • Impostor syndrome is developed when you are living by someone else’s standards and not your own. Create your own standards of success.
  • Surround yourself with people who are where you want to be, not where you are coming from. Only then can you elevate to the next level.

Listen to Part 1 of Abriana’s Interview

Listen to Part 2 of Abriana’s Interview

Episode 41: Roshaunda McLean and Tia Canada

NC State alumna Roshaunda McLean rejoins us for her second episode of the podcast to celebrate as she gets close to the finish line of receiving her PhD. at the University of Georgia. Tia Canada, a freedom fighter, TRIO Alum and now first year graduate student at NC State College of Education joins Roshaunda to reflect on their similar experiences with impostor syndrome. This emotional episode takes us back to the feelings Roshaunda had three years ago with the added hope and celebration of both women’s accomplishments, the value of resting, sisterhood and their steps forward that will lead to paving the way of a better future as African Americans in higher education. Both women were able to connect with each other through staff and how tightly-knit the community at NC State is. Roshaunda and Tia talk about research projects, and Roshanda’s work in Athens, Georgia about underrepresented populations in higher education including African Americans students and community members in predominantly white college towns. The conversation ends with “You are not the imposter! You worked harder than anyone in the room to be here! You earned this with what you have done everyday of your life.”

Listen to Roshauda and Tia’s Interview

Episode 42: Ruby Shah

NC State Junior Ruby Shah is a Sombers Neurochemistry Research Lab Volunteer and a previous WISE mentor. Her experience as a science major was shaped by struggles, but with the support of her family, her TRIO peer mentor, and her WISE mentor, she has succeeded and is looking towards going to grad school. Her experience as a first-generation college student is one many can connect to and is an identity she embraces as a sign of her strength and her struggles as she learned to navigate campus and succeed without the knowledge others have coming into college. Ruby shares her own advice to students wishing to connect more with other students and staff during the pandemic.

Listen to Ruby’s Interview

Episode 43: Shelyn Williams and Miranda Peruesk

“It was over there, so we didn’t have to worry about it,” Shelyn Williams who is a freshman at NC State University talks about the start of the pandemic. She has experienced first-hand what life on campus is like during a pandemic. As one of the freshman students who requested to stay when the university decided to transition fully online in Fall 2020, she explains what it is like to live on campus during a pandemic along with the difficulties faced by having had her senior year of high school finish during the beginning of the pandemic as she recognizes how quickly the virus spread in North Carolina and how our views changed about the pandemic overtime.

Miranda Peruesk is a transfer student and senior at NC State who is able to recall what campus life is like for students like Shelyn who have not been on campus before the pandemic, “it was like we lived in our own mini-city, our own social ecosystem”. Miranda plans to graduate from NC State in Spring 2021, she takes to heart the struggles that Shelyn faced as a senior in high school.

Together, these students look at the COVID-19 pandemic as a whole, and what the university and the state of North Carolina can do as we head back onto campus.

Listen to Shelyn and Miranda’s Interview pt 1

Listen to Shelyn and Miranda’s Interview pt 2

Episode 44: Unique Patton

In Charlotte, N.C, one of our students has already made an impression in her community. Unique Patton’s journey started in middle school, where she started her journey helping local artist, Tom Stanley, create public artworks for Charlotte’s Blue Line Extension. Unique’s work on the HOME public art project focused on reflecting upon her community and what home can mean to others. Her belief in how everyone is an artist has really shaped her community as a member of the Black Artists Coalition and an active design studies student. She is always interested in seeing how public art can affect infrastructure and people’s views on their own and other’s communities. Now, as a sophomore in the Design Studies major with a concentration in Business Administration, Unique is still continuing her journey by helping on Tom Stanley’s newest installation in Charlotte.

Unique’s success continues as both a peer mentor for the TRIO program and as a winner of the first Communities in Schools Student Innovation Challenge and 2019 Imagine Mecklenburg Student Art Contest. Her accomplishments show the value of community and giving back to the places you call home.