Will I fit in? That question lingers more than I’d like it to. Being one of the few people of color in most of my academic, athletic and professional settings has been extremely challenging. Sometimes exhausting. At times, very isolating. But it always comes back to the same questions: Will I fit in? Can I bring my full self to this environment? What will it be like? 

I grew up in the suburbs of Vancouver, Washington, and the thought of picking a college felt daunting. To be honest, I just wanted to follow my heart and play basketball for another four years. That would eventually lead me to George Fox. 

On my visit to campus as a high school senior, I fell in love with the people. The campus was beautiful. It felt like home. In some ways, it was an easy decision. And for four years, I experienced some incredible things. My freshman year, our team went undefeated and won a national championship. I met my best friends. I was thriving socially. I continued to have a strong athletic experience (I mean, I only lost 10 games in my career). I found my stride in the classroom, and I was growing in my faith in unexpected and beautiful ways. I’m thankful to say I had a great college experience. 

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But something happened years later after graduation. I began to wrestle with my own racial identity. You see, I’m biracial. My mother is Samoan and my father is Black, and it took years of wrestling with my identity to understand how I fit into this world. But through that wrestling, I am proud to be who I am, in all of who I am and my racial identity is a huge part of that. 

So here’s the question again, but I pose it to you: Will you fit in? If you’re a student of color, you may be wrestling with this very question and wondering what life would look like for you at George Fox. Keep rumbling with that question. But I’d like to leave you with three things I wish I knew about being a student of color on campus. 

#1 There are scholarships available! 

Please don’t tell my mom, because she’ll probably still be mad that I didn’t look into this! But it’s true. Here at George Fox, we have a Multicultural Leadership Scholarship for students to engage intentionally in conversations regarding diversity and reconciliation. These students are leaders on campus and are offered mentorship, staff support, and professional experience opportunities. 

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#2 There are ways to get involved 

As a student, I often was so focused on academics and athletics that I didn’t take the time to look up and see that deep conversations were happening on campus. George Fox participates in The Voices Project each year to highlight multicultural and multiethnic leadership in the U.S. and provides sessions to help students engage in meaningful conversations around diversity. We also often bring outside speakers to campus to help lead our community as well, so there’s plenty of ways to dive in and get involved.

#3 Yes, there is space for me. 

I truly believe there is space for students of color on campus, but I didn’t know there were some offices specific to the needs that I had. We have an Intercultural Resource Center, also known as the IRC, that exists to serve students by engaging in intercultural campus life. They offer programs, events and resources. Want to have a space to do your homework? Get a snack? Talk with a friend? This is your place. Plus, the IRC is full of some of the best people you’ll meet on campus. Trust me. 

I know the college decision process isn’t an easy one. I’ve been through it myself, but I have never done it in the middle of a pandemic! I know our nation is still plagued with racial injustice, and as a student of color, you may wonder if George Fox could be a place for you. I get it. It’s not always easy. But I want you to know, as someone who still chooses to serve at this university, I am working here for students like you. You belong. And you will Be Known.

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Keisha Gordon

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Keisha Gordon serves as the associate director of undergraduate admissions and as an athletic recruiter at the university. As a freshman, she won an NCAA Division III basketball national title on a team that went 32-0 in 2008-09. Some of her favorite activities include her morning walk, listening to books on audible, or basically quoting anything written by Brene Brown. Oh, and coffee. She is currently obsessed with playing Monopoly Deal before bed every night.

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