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