Andrew Ojeda, W&M Class of 2012
Andrew Ojeda arrived at William & Mary in 2008. During his time at William & Mary, Ojeda worked as a research assistant and fellow on the Lemon Project, a research initiative on the College’s role in perpetuating slavery and racial discrimination. Additionally, he was involved with Alma Mater Productions and a sitcom called Ghostburg on William & Mary TV.
After graduating with a Bachelors of Arts in American Studies in 2012, Ojeda pursued a Master’s degree in the same field at the University of New York. He went on to work for Colonial Williamsburg, researching the Transatlantic slave trade. Ojeda later joined investment company Morning Star and now works in sales for an asset management company in Chicago. Currently, he serves on the William & Mary Chicago alumni board.
In his interview, Ojeda says William & Mary caught his attention due to its “strong academic reputation.” After his rejection from the school’s football team, Ojeda was forced to find a new college identity. Consequently, William & Mary lead him to discover his “true self.” Through working with the Lemon Project, taking mentors like Jody Allen and Betsy Slavach, forming close friendships with fellow students, and taking academically enriching classes, Ojeda found an academic niche in the school’s community and learned more about his own racial identity. His college education attuned him to injustices in communities beyond his own and generated his passion for improving race relations. He stresses the importance of having “difficult” conversations to create change and claims his greatest regret is not engaging in those conversations with different organizations at the College. Ojeda discusses his post-grad trajectory into sales and attributes his success to his liberal arts background. Finally, Ojeda’s involvement with the Chicago board shows his continued support for the College. He hopes William & Mary’s future includes increased diversity and representation for marginalized communities.
William & Mary
Interviewee: Andrew Ojeda
Interviewer: Carmen Bolt
Interview Date: June 1, 2018
Carmen: My name is Carmen Bolt, oral historian at William and Mary. Currently, around 7:30 p.m. on June 1st, 2018. I’m sitting in the Kimpton Hotel Allegro in Chicago, Illinois with Andrew Ojeda, class of 2012.
So, if you’ll start by just telling me the date and place of your birth and the years that you attended William and Mary.
Andrew: Yeah, so I was born in, let’s see, October 10th, 1989. I was born in Manhasset, New York. I attended William and Mary from 2008 to 2012.
Carmen: Okay, great, and was where you were born where you were raised? Can you tell me a little bit, just about how you were raised in your family?
Andrew: So, I was raised in – so, I was born in Manhasset, Long Island; lived there for three months, then my parents, myself and my older sister moved to Illinois. So, we lived in a suburb called Lake Zurich, northwest suburbs. Lived there for ten years. My little sister was born out here, and then we moved to the East Coast, New Jersey, specifically, because my dad got a job promotion in New York City.
0:01:00.3 And I lived there for the majority of my life. Attended William and Mary, undergrad, and then NYU for graduate school.
Carmen: Wow, so, when did you start thinking about college?
Andrew: That’s a great question. I probably didn’t start thinking about college until sophomore year. I was more concerned about football in high school. So, that’s what I was mainly focused on – trying to play football in college.
Carmen: Yeah. And how did William and Mary get on your radar?
Andrew: My parents knew about it, because my older sister attended a Nike tennis camp there. So, they were down there, and they also knew of its academic reputation, so they always kept I on my radar.
Carmen: Had you ever visited Williamsburg or the area before?
Andrew: I visited Williamsburg, I want to say, I want to say it was between the ages of 7 and 10. Visited Colonial Williamsburg. I really didn’t like it. So, that was my only image of William and Mary, or Williamsburg in general.
Carmen: So, how then did you make the decision to attend William and Mary?
Andrew: So, my parents – I went with my dad on a trip to Virginia, to visit schools.
0:02:00.7 Actually, yeah, Virginia, specifically. We visited UVA, I didn’t like it. William and Mary, I was kind of iffy about it. I was on the fence, but my parents encouraged me to apply. So, I did the whole campus tour and whatnot, and I thought it was alright, but my parents encouraged me to take a look at it and investigate further.
Carmen: So, what was iffy about it, like what was . . .
Andrew: I just kind of more – I thought it was too rural, to be honest. I was growing up in the suburbs. At the time I liked kind of that feel, and then also being close to cities, having grown up in Chicago, and then also being close to New York City, so I was always much of a city person. So, I guess that was probably the main thing that turned me off. And then, I thought it was a little too far away from home, personally.
Carmen: Yeah. Well, how’d you make the decision. How’d you end up going to William and Mary?
Andrew: Yeah, so I continued to apply. Went through the application process. I got into a few schools. After looking at all of them, I realized that William and Mary was probably the best because of its strong academic representation.
0:02:59.5 And the – yeah, the reputation, and also the possibility to walk onto the football team. Yeah.
Carmen: So, what did you choose to study, and why?
Andrew: I chose to study American Studies, because from a young age, I’ve always been obsessed with American History, and I didn’t want to major in History, because you had to take other classes, kind of outside of that. I mean, at the time, I didn’t want to do that, but then looking back, I definitely would have majored in History, because I definitely in undergrad later on, and then in grad school, I got to explore different cultures and different histories and whatnot. But I was so obsessed with America, and then I realized that there’s this major called American Studies. And it’s like, oh, this is perfect for me. So, that’s how I ended up on my path.
Carmen: Yeah. Did you have a vision of what your career would look like, pursuing American Studies?
Andrew: No, no. I didn’t, whatsoever. I was just more – I’ve always been the person, or at least at that time, to just go off of what I was really passionate about and what interested me. So, America really interested me, specifically African American history and cultures.
0:04:00.9 So, that’s kind of what I specialized, or focused on within American Studies.
Carmen: Great. So, take me back to coming onto campus, freshman year. What was that beginning initial experience like for you. Like do you have any memories of what it smelled like, looked like, felt like, moving onto campus freshman year?
Andrew: Yeah – freshman year I lived in Spotswood, it was at the Botetourt Complex, was not a big fan of it. Couldn’t believe I was living in those dorms. And I also remember, because I’ve always had anxiety being far away from my parents, so that was really difficult, first on. And then, at the time I was dating somebody, so being in a long-term – long distance relationship. So, those two things, and also, at the time that year, I didn’t walk onto the football team. I tried the following year, so those three things kind of--because football was my life in high school--and then also, yeah, just being far away from my parents, long-term relationship, which was very difficult for me.
0:04:57.9 So, that’s kind of what the process was freshman year and kind of dealing with that anxiety, and also figuring out who I was as a person.
Carmen: Yeah, totally. So, when did that start to – or did that start to shift for you into a more positive experience at any point.
Andrew: Yeah! So, freshman year was really rough, because eventually, I ended up breaking up with my girlfriend. So, that was just difficult dealing with all of that, and then sophomore it really changed, because then I took – I want to say, sophomore year, spring semester, I took a course with a professor at the time, at the school at the time, name – Betsy Slavach. That was her maiden name. I forget what her name is now, but – her last name is now. But, I read a book called “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.” That completely changed the course of my life, and kind of got me on the path towards American Studies. And then also, that year, that previous fall, I’d tried to walk onto the football team, and I didn’t make it. So, after not making it, I had to realize – I kind of lost my identity.
0:06:00.3 And I had to figure out how to find my identity, and I was lucky enough to take that course with that group, with Betsy, and also to read “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.” That set me on a course for the rest of my time at William and Mary. And I think that’s when the turning point started to happy, in terms of me, as a person.
Carmen: Sure. Can we unpack that a little bit, too?
Carmen: Just the ways in which that did change your trajectory at William and Mary?
Andrew: Yes. So, I’m Black and Mexican. Last name’s Ojeda, so that’s the Mexican side. My mother’s Black. Throughout the course of my life, I’ve often, at times, had difficulty with my racial identity. Just being both Black and Mexican and not sure which to identify with, or what that meant. And also growing up in a place like the Midwest, where unfortunately there’s not, at times, a lot of diversity. And there’s also segregation, obviously, in the city, with the south side. So that was really difficult; always being stared at, as a child because of my complexion. I looked very different.
0:07:01.0 I wouldn’t say I looked like your stereotypical African American or Mexican, and some people often had a lot of questions, and I guess were often curious to figure out who I was as a person. So, that really bothered me. So, that – I dealt with that my whole life. I continued to deal with that in New Jersey, growing up, going to private school in Princeton, where you’re surrounded by – you’re not surrounded by a lot of diversity. You’re also nestled in one of the most elite towns in the East Coast. So, just dealing with all that. And not sure about that. And you know, reading “Malcolm X,” and his journey, his racial and his intellectual awakening really inspired me to figure out who I was as a person. It helped me figure out where I came from, and what to identify with. So, that really just shaped everything. And that’s what led me on this path that, at William and Mary, where I was very much into the – you know – the academia and reading and writing and asking tough but important questions.
Carmen: Okay. Yeah, that’s great. Yeah, that’s – identity questions are always so complicated, and I always ask, how William and Mary, like what part of your identity felt supported there, or not supported while you were at your institution?
Andrew: Yes, so, going off of that, I definitely think that in terms of support, one of my mentors at the time, besides Betsy--well, Betsy ended up becoming my mentor--was woman named Jody Allen, who I’m still very close with, to this day. She, I remember I was involved in what was called the Lemon Project. I’m sure you’re familiar with it. Should I explain it?
Carmen: Well, yeah, for –
Andrew: I’m trying to think of the best way. So, basically, it’s a research project initiated by William and Mary to study kind of--how do I put this--racial relationships within the Williamsburg area, within the William and Mary community, and then also with regard to it’s past.
0:09:03.1 The project is named after a slave that William and Mary owned. So, I’ve been very much involved in that project since its early days. And I distinctly remember that following year, fall semester, asking Betsy, because it was like, hey, I want to get more involved with the school, after like dealing with all I did – like hey, how do I get more involved? And she’s like, “Oh yeah, we have this thing called the Lemon Project, you should reach out to Professor Allen,” who I now am friends with, who I now call Jody, even though it’s difficult for me to say that. And she said, “Reach out to her.” And so, I distinctly remember meeting her for the first time, and our first, we first went to the special collection, and we were doing all this different stuff. I ended up learning so much with her. She ended up being my mentor. I ended up taking various Lemon Project classes – or courses. And then I would participate in the first symposium. I got to speak.
0:09:59.5 It was just a great experience, because I felt that I was truly making a change, and then also going back. And I should have mentioned this: the sophomore year. After reading “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” I made a promise to myself to always – to help improve racial relations in America in any way I possibly could. So, I thought that for a while. I thought that I could do that through academia. So, that’s why I was involved in the Lemon Project, and then eventually wrote a thesis and did a variety of different things.
But going back to—I know this is a long-winded answer--going back to my question, Jody and Betsy were always there to support me, and they knew, and after opening up and explaining my difficulty and my past roots, very much encouraged me to read, to write, to investigate and to scrutinize. I felt that aspect was very supportive in terms of just my intellectual and racial growth on campus.
Carmen: Yeah, absolutely. It sounds like it. And were there any pieces of your identity that felt that William and Mary, as a place, did not support well?
Andrew: I think that’s a good question. I, I don’t think so, because I think they did a really good job. And that’s just one aspect of it, and another aspect is, I was involved in – I don’t know if this is stored on William and Mary TV –
Carmen: Yeah –
Andrew: So, I was involved in that on campus. I was on a sit com called Ghostburg. And that was great, because I got to explore my – because I’ve always been a creative person. So, that was like my creative outlet. So, I guess, and I’ve said this multiple times to people across my life: William and Mary is a great place, and it was a great place for me, because it let me discover who I was. It gave me the opportunity for that. But then it also gave me the opportunity to be that person that I ultimately discovered. And so, whether that was via the Lemon Project, or acting – I think William and Mary was great to just . . . it set a really good foundation I then later further explored in New York City, just being surrounded by all the culture, and then being in the graduate school program that I was surrounded by brilliant people.
0:12:06.0 And I was able to shape my views even further, and sharper. And it made me realize injustices outside, outside of African Americans and Latinos. In the female community, in the gay community and all that. And I would have never gotten there if it wasn’t for William and Mary.
Carmen: Great. I want to hear a little more about Ghostburg, was it?
Andrew: Sure – so, yeah. So, I remember – I think that was my – I can’t remember if it was my junior or senior year. No, it was my junior year. So, that – once again, I was trying to figure out more ways to get involved, besides the Lemon Project. I was thinking, what else can I get involved in? And then I was also on – is it still called AMP? Alma Mater Productions? Where they – it’s the student activity committee, and they put on events. So, I was a part of that. So, I didn’t like – I was part of the film one.
0:12:59.0 But I was still looking for more ways to get involved. So, I remember – what’s the old business school name?
Carmen: Oh –
Andrew: Not the new one. Not Mason – I forget what the – whatever the old business school was. I remember distinctly in there, I was in the computer lab, and walking by. You know how they put all those flyers on stuff, and nobody ever really looks at them. I somehow, one thing caught my eye, and it said auditions – open auditions for Ghostburg, like this TV show. And I was like, why not do that? And I distinctly remember auditioning and doing that. And doing that – the character I did was for this lead role. I forget his name. I think his name might have been Max. I’m blanking. Anyways, he was basically the obnoxious, narcissistic TV host for this fictional show called Ghostburg that like – escape paranormal activity on campus, because William and Mary is known, or Williamsburg, rather is known for their famous hauntings.
0:13:58.6 So, I distinctly remember auditioning for that, because I thought it would be perfect, because I thought I could invoke that narcissism. So, I auditioned, I remember then, and then a couple of hours later, calling me, like, “Hey, you got the part. Would you want to take it?” And so, I got to do that. It’s on YouTube, if you want to look at it.
Carmen: I do want to look at it.
Andrew: Yeah, and to this day, people still look it up. I remember when I worked at Morningstar, my friend at work pulled it up on his computer and showed everybody. So, it’s very infamous, but I still have yet to watch any episodes of it, because I get anxiety watching myself on camera.
Carmen: Well, I need to resurrect that, so I can see it at least.
Andrew: Yeah. Yeah, it’s very famous among my friends. They still joke about it, to this day.
Carmen: Made you kind of infamous to yourself, I guess.
Andrew: Yeah, it did. Yeah.
Carmen: So, in addition Alma Mater Productions and being on the show and working, as you did, on Lemon Project, were there any other ways you got involved – any other student activities you participated in?
Andrew: That’s a good question. I’m trying to remember, because my memory’s a little fuzzy. I think those were definitely the main – those were the main things. And then, well, I also ended up taking the majority of my time senior year was when I wrote my thesis. And on top of – I was writing that – on top of writing that, I was also taking a full course load, both Fall and Spring semester. It was one of the craziest times of my life. Fall wasn’t bad so much. Spring, when I was actually writing it was difficult because I was writing my thesis up at the same time, trying to finish my course – all my coursework, and then c., also trying to graduate cum laude. And so, like all of that was – and I was able to do that, and to this day I still don’t know . . . I think if it wasn’t for the support of my family, a little bit of my friends, but more importantly my professors, I don’t think I would have – yeah – they helped me get over that hump.
Carmen: That’s no small feat.
Andrew: Yeah, I know. I sort of remember, used to have like what – what was I thinking. Yeah. But yeah, I was able to. But yeah, that pretty much covers my yeah, my time there, at William and Mary, like outside the classroom, and the friendships.
Carmen: Had you considered playing intermurals to kind of fill that void where sports . . .
Andrew: I did, and then I was like, I’m kind of over this. And so, I went through a period, too, where I stayed away from football. I’m still like a die-hard Bear’s fan. So, I would like follow that, and whatnot. But it also became tough to watch college football, because it reminded me a lot of what I missed out. So, there was a very good amount, I want to say probably, probably my whole time at William and Mary, and then maybe even – yeah, I would say the whole time at William and Mary where I stayed away from college football, because the pain was still, still sharp. But I mean, honestly, not making the football team was one of the greatest things that ever happened in my life, because it forced me to figure out things. Figure out who I was. That’s the first thing. It set me on that – on a path I was on – now I’m on a different path today.
Carmen: Alright, I’ll look forward to hearing more about that, as well. Kind of while we’re focusing on the William and Mary –
Andrew: Yeah –
Carmen: period, were there any other mentors or individuals that stand out as being particularly impactful during your time at William and Mary?
Andrew: Yeah – I tried – yeah. That’s a great question. I definitely thing Betsy Slavach--completely blanking on her new – her new last name…
Carmen: We can look it up.
Andrew: Yeah, and then Jody Allen, were definitely the two people that, you know, helped me the most, and were always supportive. I mean, they served on my – what’s it called? I guess committee, for lack of a better word. I defended my thesis. Those were the two people, yeah, who I will always remember from my time at William and Mary.
Carmen: I always like to ask William and Mary alum, because of the size of the school –
Andrew: Yeah –
Carmen: about proximity to any given president at the time.
0:18:02.1 Because there’s some sort of close proximity –
Andrew: Yeah –
Carmen: and so right before you came, there was this whole very tumultuous change over from Gene Nichol to –
Andrew: Yeah, that’s what I heard, and I never got the full story on that. I just know, I just know a little bit. But I know how the whatchacallit – yeah, the transition.
Carmen: Yeah. Little crazy. I was wondering if that, I mean, it’s hard to know if you were there during Gene Nichol’s time, but if you saw that play out in any way, or what your impression of Taylor Reveley as a president was during your time.
Andrew: Yeah, I think Taylor did a great job, from in terms of like raising revenue, raising William and Mary’s profile. I think he did a fantastic job at that. I just heard rumblings from other people, specifically minorities. I know he did a great job with the Lemon Project, and that’s like a huge thing, and something William and Mary really needed.
0:19:00.2 But I have heard from other people and other opinions around campus, just that minorities and also people who were on, so to speak, on the margins of – pushed to the margins of society, were not necessarily happy with some of the things that he did. Specifically, I’m aware of the living wage campaign. That went on there at the time.
Carmen: Yeah, I have heard it described a couple of times by individuals who attended while Gene Nichol was president, -
Carmen: and they saw that changeover. That Gene Nichol spoke to, or really showed interest in the experiences of minorities, -
Andrew: Mm-hmm –
Carmen: or people pushed to the margins. So, there was this great hope amongst many when he -
Andrew: Mm-hmm –
Carmen: was hired, and then to have him resign, and all that happen in that way
Andrew: Yeah –
Carmen: was kind of like, all that hope that was there kind of
Andrew: Yeah –
Andrew: Exactly. Yeah, and so, I just remember, and I probably will research that, once I’m done with this interview, but just at least from my time, standing out, I know people loved, really, just from what I’ve seen and heard on campus. I know there was a lot of displeasure among people of that group. And I mean, about the same time I imagine he did do a good job initiating the Lemon Project; of course, that’s important. There’s also other things I could have done; could have been done better.
Carmen: Sure. Okay, great. So, transitioning a little bit, I want to hear about favorite memories or experiences from your time at William and Mary.
Andrew: Yeah. I think definitely just hanging out with my friends, the relationships I built there, and just a lot of just goofy and silly stuff that we did.
Carmen: Any examples?
Andrew: Yeah, probably, that I won’t share.
0:20:54.0 And then specifically with regards to on campus, probably more appropriate, would definitely be a Spanish class, with a professor – her name – Patricia Toney. She was a great Spanish professor. Hilarious, so funny. And I can’t tell you how many friends I made that course, because I think it was junior year where you had to take – I don’t know if – I forget what semester it is, but you had to take Spanish class, five days a week. So, we had to take it three days, just regular, like we’d go to class, and then two days was considered lab, where it’s more drill work. So, everyone bonded together, because you see these people all the time. Then you have to do all this course work, and it’s just like, it’s like hey, this is what it is, and we all have to bond and get through it. Something – that’s an experience that stood out. And then also, just the classes, the time I spent with Professor Slavach, and Allen.
0:21:59.8 And then you know, listening to them, them helping me find my voice with writing, or encouraged me to read other scholarly materials, that – and then also just listening to all my classmates and all their different opinions and the disagreement that we had, and also learning from them. I think those things are definitely are things that will stand out with me, the relationships that I built that last to this day.
Carmen: Oh, great.
Carmen: So, what did you and your friend group do for fun?
Andrew: Just a lot of – obviously the bars that we visited, parties in various dorm rooms. Those things definitely stand out. You know, late nights with them. And then just silly things. They would always tease me about my involvement at William and Mary. Not like in a negative way, but also like, you know, how friends tease one another. Yeah, it was just good experiences. You know, I definitely miss college.
0:23:02.0 It’s funny, just from what I’ve heard, talking to other people, like my girlfriend, who lived in Michigan, and all the stuff that she did, and what she misses about college, and with friends, I do miss that. The thing that will never ever be replicated will be learning in the classroom and then b., the relationships that you build with professors. That just won’t be replicated on any level. And that for me is always going to stand the test of time, and when I’m giving back to William and Mary, when I’m trying to do stuff on app for William and Mary, it’s because I want people to have the same experiences that I did. Not necessarily with regard to the friendships, because you can build those anywhere, but the relationships that you’re going to build with your professors that will hopefully stand, even outside, or even once you leave William and Mary.
0:23:57.4 And I think it’s something I’m starting to pick up through different interviews, that something very special may be about the size of William and Mary, and the types of professors that William and Mary retained, that those sort of relationship –
Andrew: Yeah, and it is a college, and therefore, it’s going to encourage people who want to teach. Where others, like NYU, where I learned the very hard way, they’re all – they’re mainly concerned, and it’s clearly understandable, that’s how they - grants, how they get money, producing research. And that’s what those larger universities do. So, when you have a school like William and Mary, you combine with a college, a teaching school, with the size, you’re going to get the feel of a liberal arts school, like an Amherst or a Williams or whatnot, and you’re going to get that attention that you need, and classroom size. Unless you’re like in a massive like Psychology 101, or Biology 101, that’s clearly understandable. And then also, on that, you’re going to get the attention, but b., you’re also going to get the attention during office hours. Like I distinctly remember professors’ doors always being open. And I cannot – and that’s where I really built my relationships. Going to office hours, being like, “Hey, I need help. I’m not like – obviously I got this grade on my paper, how do I get better?”
0:25:01.6 And then from going on that, where just me getting help to having these really in-depth conversations about, you know, whether it’s race, gender, or other injustices going on in the world, and that’s where you really start laying down the foundations of a relationship.
Carmen: Yeah. Absolutely. So, can you tell me a little bit about what your role or your involvement with the Lemon Project was, kind of from an early . . .
Andrew: Yeah, so I was essentially a research assistant, early on. And then that evolved over time to doing the research, just that – and then I was a fellow one year, and used that money for – to do research on my thesis, and on top of that, too. And that gradually moved from coming back to the school, to you know, just be at the conference and moderate it, to then ultimately starting a fellowship within the Lemon Project, called Gaither Johnson Fellowship, which is named after my mother’s parents, who were both slaves.
0:26:00.7 And so, yeah, it’s been – it’s great to see how that process has evolved, and I cannot tell you how much that means to me, what I was able to be involved in with the Lemon Project, from its early stages and seeing what it is now, to being nationally recognized, and also being able to give back, monetarily, not just like my time, but monetarily to the school, so that people can learn more, or conduct the research that they want within the African American community, and then hopefully, you know, as I get older, continue to grow that fellowship even more, and maybe evolve it to a scholarship that I’m able to give a student, an underprivileged student one day.
Carmen: Right. Do you have any hopes for the future of the Lemon Project to where it goes from here?
Andrew: Yeah. I mean, I hope it becomes more of a – because I think that at the time, I didn’t recognize this, where I hoping it would more be academic, like a conference. But I think where it should be is right where it is: as a symposium, as a bridge between academia and just the community.
0:27:06.3 So, that it can serve as a platform for people to talk about things they’re uncomfortable talking about, and I think that’s a lot of the trouble we have in this country, just people are uncomfortable talking about things, or we pivot to other things. I think a great example would be the nonsense that was Rosanne. And I think Valarie Jarret said it perfectly, this can be – obviously that’s offensive, but she was saying, like she was hurt by it. But it’s like, this can be a teaching moment, and instead it’s evolved into now, media bias. Like, oh, what about what this person said about Donald Trump. And yeah, probably that person should have said what they did about Donald Trump, but you’re missing the point, because you’re pivoting the conversation. And that is a great metaphor for what race relations – race relations in America, but also racial history. We always try to move the conversation elsewhere.
0:28:00.7 And, if you never address it, then the problem is going to continue to persist and compound to the area – to where it is today, where you see all these various, these horrible injustices occurring across the country.
So, my hope is for it to continue to be – the Lemon Project continue to be a platform for people to talk about uncomfortable things, but also give people the ability to – students at the college to study African American history and culture and see where if the person is of African American descent, where our history comes from, or if someone’s not of African American descent, where that ultimately derives from, too.
Carmen: Yeah. I’m wondering, you know, with your discussion of your involvement, and the Lemon Project and all that. If you found or saw a similar venue for you to get involved in – Mexican history or Latin-x history at William and Mary, or if those opportunities were available –
Andrew: Yeah. I wasn’t aware of those opportunities. I think I got so honed in on African American history, because of a course I took, b., because my mother was always adamant and proud to know your history, and then see also just on my father’s side, unfortunately, that--because both of his parents were immigrants--that unfortunately, because of societal pressures, they were more focused on integrating themselves into society and they kind of lost – not their Mexican identity, but their relationship to Mexican culture kind of faded as time went on. And they still retain some of it, but I think, just because of how unfortunately, racism was, where people would get ostracized for speaking Spanish, and you just want to “fit in” so you can ultimately have a better life.
0:29:57.0 That had a huge effect on how my father, my father’s relationship to Mexican culture, and then that just subsided as time went on, then once he had us, me and my two sisters, that he wasn’t as vocal as maybe he would have wanted to, just because of what he experienced in the past in terms of – teaching us about Mexican history and whatnot. I’m still somewhat aware of it. My mom was always like, “Be proud of who you are. This is who you . . .” All – I’m proud to be Black. I’m also proud to be Mexican, just because of how I was raised and how – all that stuff that goes into it. Just ultimately how I’ve got steered more toward African American history and culture.
Andrew: And trust me, that’s a huge regret for me. I wish that I did expose myself more to Mexican culture and history, because it’s a beautiful culture, and I was able to explore it a little bit. Well, studying colonialism, and then I was studying slavery in Latin American countries. Just like the indigenous population in Mexico, and then how that ultimately became mixed with Spanish colonialism.
0:31:02.7 And all that, and it’s great and beautiful, and – and I’m also dying to get to Mexico City, just because of the former Aztec capital, and whatnot, and all their great, rich history they have going on. It’s something I’m still aware of, and something I still wish to explore. But because of all that background I just gave you, that’s why I was more towards African American history.
Carmen: Sure. Yeah, that completely makes sense. So, we talked about it a bit here and there, but I would love to kind of outline what race relations looked like on William and Mary’s campus during the time you were there. Because, like a piece of your focus became to kind of mend that and help be an advocate for like, better relations. I’m just wondering what that looked like in the early 2010s on William and Mary’s campus.
Andrew: Yeah, I think the campus was definitely, it was diverse. It could have been more diverse.
0:31:55.3 I think the biggest issue some people had on campus, and this is coming from the Black community, because it was always articulated during the symposium, is just kind of how they – what’s the word – the friction between non-white people and then also, with African Americans, some, I remember someone remarking at the symposium that someone would ask, or approach somebody and had all these questions about Black history, and Black culture, because they’d never seen a Black person before, because they unfortunately grew up in a very isolated rural community.
And so, that’s twofold, because I heard it from both sides. Whereas one person articulated whereas, I would – getting asked that question, I would take it as – what’s the word? I would approach it more as, like this is an opportunity for this person to learn, whereas – so therefore I feel encouraged to explain to them what this is about, so they have, so that they have certain views about African American history and culture. So, it may not be about stereotypes, whatever.
0:33:00.3 And then the other side is like, this isn’t my job. And to feel that, feel that pressure that I – I – I – whoever that person is approaching – I represent the African American community, and therefore I have to teach it.
So, I understand both sides. So, I think that was definitely difficult, because I think with Virginia, you have pockets that are--and you see this every election with the State of Virginia, whether it turned red or blue--how certain people vote. In Northern Virginia, it’s always blue – everything south, tends to be red. So, we can – so, William and Mary’s a great school. It’s obviously a state school, so it’s going to attract a lot of people within state. People you’re getting from in state come from, unfortunately those rural areas or communities, that are very much White. Whether it be 70 or 80%. But with that being said, I’ve met people from rural areas who are very much encouraged about, hey, I want to like, explore my boundaries.
0:33:58.2 I know one person I took a class with who took many – was a history major – took many classes with Jody. Having come from that community, just wanted to learn, to see what else was out there. So, he was very much involved in that. And now he’s teaching overseas, in China. And what was just going to be maybe one or two years, and now, I think he’s been there, since--because he graduated 2012 with me, and now it’s 2018--he’s been there, yeah, six years now. And so, so that’s great too.
So, you see both sides, but at the same time, you understand both perspectives, and then, sometimes you don’t feel like your voice is getting heard on campus. Whether that’s getting drowned out, because they tend to focus on more things that are more from the European tradition, or you just see it in the curriculum, in terms of what is required for the general education requirements on campus.
So, you have a lot of different things going on, and so, I guess that’s what kind of – I saw both things, as I still do in my various places I go, just in terms of, yeah, race relations.
0:35:07.9 And nowhere is perfect. Even the most liberal places, like NYU, when I was in the graduate school program, I thought like, oh, I’ll really be encouraged to learn more about African American history and culture, and where that wasn’t the case at all.
So, you just see it everywhere and it’s just really sad, and you have to do a better job in society, integrating as much as possible into society, because, as one person told me, you know – American history? That is everybody’s history, whether you are Black, White, Latino, Asian – we are all in this together, and we all came from, came from somewhere else. And so, we’ve just got to do a better job of teaching it more.
Andrew: And improving race relations.
Carmen: Did you – were there any available venues, I would say outside of the Lemon Project, to have those conversations on campus that were readily available? Or were you able to create those spaces through any . . .?
Andrew: I mean, I did have difficulty discussing it with some of my friends, because out of my friends, I was the only Humanities major, and they were more grounded in more, other things that were obviously applicable to while outside of William and Mary, once you get a job and whatever. So, it was difficult having those conversations, but then I feel being exposed to that, helped them learn about certain things. That’s another regret about my time at William and Mary. I wish I’d explored more groups to discuss these things, whether they be multicultural, or any other like Black affiliated organizations, Latino affiliated associations.
0:37:01.1 Because I know for sure they were talking about it there. But I think there were – there were definitely opportunities to create spaced to talk about it. I always thought the most comfortable place for me was always in the classroom.
Carmen: Sure. I mean, Humanities are really interested in that way, because it is a very specific – it’s just so different. Those conversations are readily occurring with other people having those conversations and engaging in them.
Andrew: Yeah, and you’re going to hear things that you’re not going to agree with, that are going to get you upset, but I think you – as I mentioned before, you have to have these uncomfortable and difficult conversations before you can move forward. And I definitely, just from my experience, I remember, because I explored more feminist work once I got to NYU, and then realizing, you know, just becoming more aware of all of the inequality among women and whatnot, and just having, you know, difficult conversations where I realized I was so blind to think I was missing out on so much.
0:38:05.5 That also helped me to become a better person. Helped me to become the person I am today, and the person I was before and the person I want to educate my children about, so they’re more aware. And that’s what we need more in society. And just unfortunately, the conversation gets buried sometimes, because people tend to make excuses why they don’t want to talk about difficult things, and try to pivot the conversation.
Carmen: Yeah. So, I kind of – I am going to pivot the conversation [chuckles], but not away from that, but because I have a question that sort of relates.
Carmen: I want to hear about difficult experiences. Now, you’ve already talked a little bit about them, but difficult experiences and challenging experiences you had at William and Mary, and how this impacted you. You spoke about that freshman year a little bit. But if you want to expand a little bit on what that was like, and how you found ways to continue pressing through, going through all these things you were dealing with freshman year?
Andrew: Yeah. I think, so do you want to know how I got from like freshman year to ultimately senior year? Or do you want to talk about a specific experience, whether that’d be racial or anything else?
Carmen: How about both, if you have examples of the latter, but –
Andrew: Sure – I think freshman year was just difficult because of the anxiety of being away from my parents, because I’ve always had severe anxiety over that. Like, I always had trouble going to sleep away at camps. So, going to college was like the first time I was away from my family for prolonged – prolongated amount of time, b., breaking up with my girlfriend at the time, my first year’s relationship. That was really difficult. C., not being, because of all that, not being focused on school, and kind of just digging myself in a hole. I’d been trying, and so like from that point on, I guess that’s why I was so focused on school.
0:40:00.3 It’s like, I got myself in this hole. It happened, you’ve just got to move on, but how do I get out of this. Not only do I get out of this academically, just from an academic standpoint, how do I get out of this just from an identity standpoint. And so, you’re going through all these different things. You’re trying to figure out who you are. So, the way I pushed on, I think, the first portion, was like just my family. I think they helped me, so much. I can’t tell you how many times I called my parents and they talked to me, and how they’d visit, and how they would help me pay for me to go back home, even though New Jersey was six hours away, and all that. I think that person, foremost, was like the biggest support. And that’s what kept me going, every single day.
And then, I think if it wasn’t about the African American history course, and then reading Malcolm X and his words, and having conversations with my mother about it, that would – like giving me the drive.
0:40:59.7 Without that, I wouldn’t have the drive to pursue all these different things, and really start to get out of this hole, where I was starting to, you know, went from like getting bad grades to being on honor roll. And kept pushing and realizing that hey, I want to write a thesis. A thesis and graduating with honors in my major, and then ultimately graduating cum laude. I think just that, and also having that outlet, be it theater, to help me articulate how I was feeling. I think all those things just helped me along the way, and just all the different things I was able to participate in, get out of a place where I was stuck, or a place where I felt miserable to a place that was much more pleasurable and happy, and now a place, too, where I talk about William and Mary in such glowing ways.
Carmen: Sure, definitely. And again, along those lines, were there any specific instances or difficulties or challenges, I guess, outside of that first freshman year that were particularly impactful to you?
Andrew: No, not really. I think just the freshman – it’s got like, I just started to like, everything just started to fly once I got out of freshman year. And then, I would say, really after sophomore year, that’s when it was night and day. And then just going off of the racial stuff, I think the most difficult was just in the classroom. I couldn’t tell you like a specific example, but just hearing different people’s opinions and be like, what are you saying? But I think that, and the also, just reading stuff and books and whatnot, and realizing just how horrible things really were, and just how awful people were to African Americans throughout the course of time, I think that’s when I was like, what? I can’t believe this. Because you know about slavery. Okay, that’s bad, and whatnot, but then you read stuff, like by Malcolm X, and just his history, and you read fictional books such as “The Invisible Man,” and your life just turns upside down, realizing, you know, what’s – what’s going on.
Carmen: Definitely. Did you also become like more aware of like the humanity of it all?
Carmen: The older you get, the more you realize like how deep those pains can hit.
Carmen: So, before we transition to your time post-William and Mary, I want to hear about this thesis. I know we have it in social collections, and have digitized theses, but let’s hear about it.
Andrew: Yeah, so it’s been a while since I talked about it. So, what I studied, what I wrote about was interracial rel – because I’ve always been obsessed with film and just pop culture in general, and I was just very fascinated by interracial relationships, because of my parents, and interracial relationships I’d been in. So, I decided to write my thesis on “Interracial Relationships in Film.” That was the first half, and the second half was exploring mixed-race individuals in – also in film, but also in TV and commercials, and why Hollywood--for lack of a better word--was comfortable showing interracial relationships, but they were never comfortable showing the actual birth of the child, or the actual mix-race individual or the mix-race family.
0:44:15.9 So, that’s what I kind of wrote about, for my thesis. Yeah, very esoteric, and not something a lot of people write about –
Andrew: Yeah, I was very passionate about that. And I still, to this – and it’s funny, because I don’t know what necessarily drove me to – to decide to write a thesis. I think I honestly just thought it would be cool. And I thought, why not. And indeed, I think when I first started, I didn’t realize that that would help me graduate with honors in my major. I think, honestly, I just did it because I wanted to prove to everybody – because I’m a competitive person – I want to prove to everybody, I could write a thesis.
Carmen: And you did it. Although probably that senior year, when you were writing it, you’re probably like, oh . . . maybe I –
Andrew: Yeah. And the best part was I wrote another thesis for my masters.
Carmen: Oh, my goodness. And we’ll talk about that, as well. You’re just writing away.
Andrew: Yeah. So, now that’s why I’m no longer in academia; I got sick of writing.
Carmen: Makes sense. And we’ll come back to that, also. There was one more question I wanted to ask you about your time –
Andrew: Oh, sure –
Carmen: at William and Mary. And it’s more about the socio-political things going on outside of Williamsburg, in the broader United States and world that were going on, that you might have seen play out on campus in some way. So, this could have been the election of the first president of color. The killing of Oscar Grant in Oakland, California actually, in 2009. The Iraq war. The War in Afghanistan. The great recession hit right then as you’re going to college.
Andrew: And I will honestly say, I wish I did a better job of paying attention to what was going on outside of me. I think, just from a selfish standpoint, I was so focused on myself, and just trying to figure out who I was, that I was just so much a bookworm and I was just so much engrained in all that . . . I mean, I knew about Obama and whatnot, and that was a momentous occasion.
0:45:58.0 But I think at the time, I didn’t really appreciate it, and like how far we had come, a., just because I wasn’t as aware, in terms of like history and whatnot, had a broad sense, but not like a very particular sense. And then b., and then a., and then b., just with the great recession, just now being in finance – and I think, and that is more of a testament to my parents, because they – we didn’t really have any issues. If they did, they did a great job of shielding it from myself and my two sisters, and so I knew it was going – oh, this is terrible, but now, just doing what I do now, and then also being in a space that some of – we’re not invested in them, but in the same space, we’re kind of the badder, you get more bad securities, caused the financial crisis . . . Now, I’m much more aware of all of that, and what went on and how horrible it – and then also seeing “The Big Short,” and just seeing how terrible things were.
0:46:59.9 And how much of a greater appreciation I have for my parents how able – how they were able to get me through school and whatnot, and were always able to provide me with whatever I needed. But I can’t imagine trying to get a job, coming out of that.
Carmen: Well, so, I mean – that now we can kind of transition to your trajectory, post-William and Mary.
Carmen: So, you had an American Studies degree –
Andrew: Yeah, a BA in American Studies.
Carmen: Yeah, so by the time you were graduating, did you have a sense of what you wanted to do next?
Andrew: Yeah, I always knew I wanted to go to graduate school.
Andrew: Whether that be a master’s degree or PhD – I probably should have gone PhD, because I’m still paying for that master’s degree. But I always knew I wanted to go get a graduate degree, and I thought, because I was just like on this journey, and it’s like, I love learning. I just want to get to learn, to keep absorbing everything. I just remember everyone being, all my professors being so happy. And I didn’t realize at the time, like, why are they so happy that I’m pursuing academia, and then realize like, oh yeah.
0:48:01.9 Not everybody does this. Everybody pursues academia, and then also they went through all this, and so they feel proud that someone wants to continue, continue on that.
So, yeah, I always knew I wanted to go to graduate school, and I remember applying. And that was my fall semester I applied. So, that was a little bit hectic. Not nearly as hectic as my senior semester, or spring semester, senior year. I remember I applied to Columbia, NYU, GW, Yale and William and Mary. And I got into William and Mary, William and Mary, GW and NYU, and I still remember, to this day, getting my acceptance letter via email, and checking it before class, and being so excited. As much as I love Williamsburg, I was done with it, and I wanted to leave. So, New York City, just being close to home, and going to a – the – tied with Yale, as like the top-ranked school for American Studies, was thrilling.
0:49:03.1 And I finally felt like I achieved – everything I had worked for, I finally achieved that. And so that was great experience.
So, I transitioned to NYU. Continued studying more about American Studies. Got more engrained in theory. Read a lot about Karl Marx, because that’s kind of what NYU is all about – specifically their American Studies program. Getting exposed to the gay community. The literature, just like the classics. That was awesome. I can’t tell you how amazing that was. And then also being exposed to feminist work, and learning all about that, and coming to a realization in terms of like, just about equality and empowerment, and how I wanted to support that in any way I could. And also, within the gay community – and yeah. Just relationships I built there was just fantastic.
0:49:58.9 But I think, but at the same time, I also got discouraged, because I realized that producing research is more valuable than – is more valued than teaching, and I was always – I always wanted to be a teacher in some sense. And I thought professor was kind of the upper-echelon of that, because you could continue to read; you could inspire people to learn more and get outside their comfort zone, and then so – yeah, so once I – oh yeah, no – you’ve got to produce research about something you care about, and then b., not to sound greed, you would not make significant money until you were in your – probably 40s or 50s. So, once I realized those two things, I was like, yeah, I’m out of this. I will never forget one of my professors saying that I shouldn’t pursue a PhD, not because I couldn’t, but because I – she said I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t tell you that, because of how much suffering you’re going to endure.
0:50:56.2 So, I realized that. I still went on the path to pur – to try to pursue a PhD, specifically in Anthropology, because I thought that would be the best way to explore what I wanted to do, and what I wanted to write about. But ultimately, I realized that I was done with that chapter of my life.
So, much like football, realizing alright, what’s next. And so that’s kind of how I ultimately transitioned to the financial world, somehow, specifically. So, after William and – after NYU, I worked for Colonial Williamsburg, in the research department. And I helped publish an online encyclopedia through the UN on the Transatlantic slave trade. That was my second go around at Colonial Williamsburg, because the previous summer, the summer between my first and second year at NYU, I went there for an internship, a paid internship, because I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do for the summer. I wanted to get experience. So, I did that great experience, and then, you know, out of NYU, decided you don’t want to pursue the PhD.
0:52:00.1 It’s like, alright, what should I do. What does someone with a BA and MA in American Studies going to do. So, I decided to take that paid internship again, to figure out what I wanted to do.
After doing that, as pleasurable as that was, I realized I didn’t want to work in the non-profit sector, because very similar to academia, it’s tough. And then my dad is a lawyer for an asset management company in Jersey City. So, I’ve always been exposed to finance to some degree. I never really understood what he did until I got much older. Late – It got – later in my life, and decided to produce – pursue finance, and so what he - he was kind enough, because he worked with different departments of the company. He always thought – everyone thought I should do sales. They thought I’d be successful in it. So, he told me about this thing called wholesaling, which essentially, people that sale mutual funds, which are the products that the asset management company he works for, sell.
0:52:59.7 So, he encouraged me to do that. So, I basically spent a day at his office, meeting with all these people, learning about finance. Then I met with the head of sales at the time, and he was going to help me find a job. He just couldn’t give me one – help me at the company, because there are nepotism laws, which I completely understand. Because I’m not a big fan of nepotism, either.
And so, while he – while I was waiting to hear back from that, also looking at other jobs, my sister, who went to the University of Chicago was trying to help me out. Looking for job postings on the board. And she finally sent me a position for this company called Morning Star, here in Chicago. She said, “Try and apply.” I was like, alright. Literally just submit – did not know anybody that worked there. Submitted my application via online, went through the interview process, and got accepted. And so, I worked there.
So, it was funny, because the reason I didn’t want to work in finance, after reading Karl Marx, one doesn’t really – one has a strong, strong – strong opinions – negative opinions about capitalism after reading him.
0:54:03.0 So, I thought just with finance, it would change who I was as a person, move me away from everything I was doing in terms of you know, pursuing equality in America, and all that. Then, I was like hey, you know, why not – I can still be the person who I am, you know, finance is – and if who I think I am as a person – as a person – then I don’t think finance is going to change it. So, I decided to pursue it. Got accepted at Morning Star.
So, that was the first thing. And the second thing, I always, desperately wanted to come back to Chicago. After NYU I was pretty much done with the East Coast. Chicago always felt like home to me, after living here for 10 years. I applied for one job here, or two jobs – one I didn’t get, the second one, I didn’t get either. I found out, I didn’t get the second one, the day I was interviewing at Morning Start. So, this is basically what I felt was my last shot to come back to Chicago. And so, thankfully, they accepted me.
0:54:59.3 And then I did that for close to three years, working in various departments in the company, because I was in this development program that let you – essentially rotated different roles in the company. So, I started off in client service – just was a support representative. Then I got promoted to supervisor, and I tried sales, and then I tried product management, and doing all these different things. Was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. And then after product management – well, I thought I wanted to do sale, but then I kind of had some negative experiences with regards to that, but – you’re going to laugh in a second, once I tell you more about that. And then it’s like, oh, I’m going to try product management, because I’m very interested in that. I felt like product management, that was going to be my career, that was going to be my life. Three months in I realized I’d made a huge mistake.
So, now I’m trying to figure out . . . so, I did that for a little bit, because you know, I needed a job. I needed to continue to work, and some aspects were fascinating. And then just trying to figure out like what, what do I want to do? And then, I realized I wanted to leave Morning Star and see what other opportunities were out there.
0:56:02.8 And so, I remember, I was using this recruiter, and she sent me a few jobs, and I interviewed some. Those didn’t work out. And then I finally reached out one more time, to see if anything new. And she’s like, “Yeah, I sent your resume to the company I’m currently at, right now.” It’s like, “I hope that’s fine.” I ended up getting – talking to the person in HR. She’s an NYU alum, and she’s so happy to connect. And I’m talking to her, and it turned out being the job I’m currently at now, which is a sales position.
Carmen: Full circle.
Andrew: Yeah, exactly. So, yeah. And I thought, after doing a long – seriously, do I want to go back to sales? And I figured out the answer was yes, because I realized the negative experiences I had at Morning Star more had to do with the things in their sales department than it did with actual sales. And I thought like, hey, I should try to give this another shot.
So, I’m over at this asset management company, doing sales there, doing the role that I initially toured at for, at my dad’s firm.
Carmen: That’s a really interesting trajectory.
Andrew: Yeah, full circle. Yeah.
Carmen: So, do you feel like, or in what ways do you feel like William and Mary and your experience there prepared you ultimately for the career you’re in now?
Andrew: Yeah, that’s a good question. So, I think we’re prepared to be the most, and I think where I will always stand out throughout the course of my life, is the ability to read something that’s dense, analyze it, and be able to spit it out, and then also be able to communicate with another person, whether that be speaking or whether that be writing. I think William and Mary set the foundation for that, and then NYU just enhanced that even more. And then all the different jobs I’ve done before. But I definitely thing the critical reasoning I – and the writing and all that good stuff, that’s all William and Mary. And that’s stuff that I’m still applying today in my current job.
0:57:59.3 But no, I had no – prior to even Morning Star, which is also a financial company, and this job, yeah, no financial experience whatsoever, prior to that. Did not take any type of business class at William and Mary. And so, it was like a completely new world for me.
Then, on top of that, too, doing what I did at William and Mary gave me the confidence to then go to finance, where I – doing what I did, writing a thesis, not even – no, wanting to do that, and then ultimately being successful, and completing it, and then having that confidence, and like hey, you know, I can do anything. I work hard, and I have people to support me. That, what I built there, and that confidence, that’s what ultimately led me to be willing to try these things, and now opening all these different doors that I’m exploring now.
Carmen: Sure. Gives you insight to the value of the Liberal Arts Education.
Andrew: Yes. Exactly. Definitely.
0:58:59.5 Not, I mean, yeah, it was difficult, right out of school to find a job. I think more and more companies I think are realizing that true value of liberal arts. And that’s what Morning Star was too. They realized the value of that. Because they were specifically looking for people. Yeah, that’s great if you’ve got a financial business background, but they are also specifically looking for people with liberal arts background because of how their minds kind of work and how they do things differently.
Carmen: That’s interesting. Very cool. So, you have actually remained pretty involved with William and Mary since you graduated.
Andrew: I have, yes.
Carmen: In a number of ways. You’re currently serving on the Chicago board?
Andrew: Yeah, with Chris.
Carmen: So, let’s talk about the different ways you’ve remained involved, and why you’ve chosen to.
Andrew: Yeah, so when I moved to Chicago, I was trying to figure out ways – well, like first year, I was trying to figure out, just everything – landscape of the city. Because I didn’t know anybody that lived here. I had cousins here, but no one lives in downtown Chicago. So, I was dealing with that, and then, so like, joining the chapter was more – yeah, I want to get more involved with William and Mary because I love it, and then also, I want to.
1:00:08.3 And then also, too, I wanted like, I needed a social circle.
So that, William and Mary served as a great platform that – I made great friends through the chapter here. And so that was great, too. And then, when I wanted to get back to William and Mary, I always just having, not making a lot of money for a good amount of time. Not making any money at all, I just – I realized that once I did, I always knew I wanted to give back to William and Mary. What is the best way to do that? And I had this in my mind: I always wanted to start a fellowship. And so immediately, once I had a significant amount of money, I wanted to give back. And that’s when I reached out to Jody, and she was so happy. And I told my parents about that, and they were so excited. And so, just that – continue to give back in whatever manner I can.
1:01:00.6 Whether that’s just talking about William and Mary to other people, whether that’d be like people that are applying to college, or people that reach out to me because they know I went to William and Mary. Or even, you know, networking with people, and then people who are looking for jobs. I know Morning People reach out to me, just to figure out, like how the best way to navigate the application process. I just – because I’m so prideful about William and Mary, that I’m willing to help in any manner.
Carmen: So, what changes are you seeing at William and Mary over time, and what do you think of them?
Andrew: Yeah, I definitely think – well, I think first and foremost that the buildings are getting renovated, and they’re building new ones. I think that’s fantastic. And how the campus has completely transformed from when I was there. They did a good job of that. Then also, just seeing how the Lemon Project just continues to grow. Every year I go back and see how it gets bigger and bigger, and hearing all the – all the different people who won my fellowship, presenting – or awarded my fellowship presenting on what research they conducted, and hopefully where it led to.
1:02:06.2 And that, I think that is the most rewarding thing, most of all.
Carmen: Yeah. That’s awesome. I can’t image what that feels like.
Andrew: It feels good. It feels good.
Carmen: Yeah, I’ll bet. So, are there any changes you hope to see in the future at William and Mary?
Andrew: I still thing – I hope to see continued – I definitely think more diversity on campus, whether that be race, gender or sex, being most importantly – because I want the community – I think they do a good job of that, but I think they can do an even better one, of being more inclusive on campus. Maybe seeing – I know this a big ask, but asking that the curriculum be altered to include more non-traditional curriculum, specifically in the humanities. I know they do, they do a job, somewhat – I think one class will do some of the non-western-European tradition. I think maybe expanding on that, and then just see the Lemon Project to grow and build to see how, what ultimately it, they could grow to.
Carmen: Sure. And on the topic of diversity, since we just kind of closed out a year of celebration of 50 years of African American students. Again, such a short time, actually, but it sounded –
Andrew: Yeah, it is. It really is. [chuckling]
Carmen: It is, but the year, you know, so many amazing things came out of that. So, I’m hoping you could speak just a little bit to the value of diversity and inclusion on a college campus and just generally.
Andrew: I think first and foremost, diversity, just because it brings different opinions, different perspectives, to you want to see more representation. Like I want to see more people that are like myself on campus, just so I can feel that, feel like I’m welcome, instead of just maybe a group of a greater population. I think those are the two things I’m really hoping for. And that’s to me, what diversity is.
1:03:59.8 It’s not just – it’s both representation, whether that be on campus, but also the representation of different opinions and perspectives. And also, just being aware of where you come from, and what you’ve been granted in your life. Like yes, everyone – everyone comes to William and Mary has definitely worked hard. Some people may have worked harder than others, and that’s just an unfortunate side-effect of society, but I think more importantly, realizing that and being aware of that and recognizing that. I think that’s what we need to do – William and Mary needs to a better job of.’
Carmen: Awesome. Thanks for answering that.
Carmen: So, I’ve come to the end of my list of questions, but I like to open it up at the end for you to add anything that you want to add at this time that you want to be on record. Anything that you thought I’d ask, that sort of thing.
Andrew: No, I think you did a great job of asking, right on the nose in terms of everything.
Carmen: So, nothing else at this time? None of those stories you didn’t want to tell me earlier about what you and your friends did?
Andrew: No, I’m good.
Carmen: Okay. Awesome. Thank you for participating. I think this will be really impactful.
[End of recording]
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