SEASON 1 ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION
Emily Vu, Clarissa Curry, Michele Yang and Delaney Tevis
In addition to teaching reporting and storytelling, the Making Waves curriculum encourages vulnerability, openness, and difficult dialogues. At the end of the semester, Making Waves faculty advisor Kathryn Fishman-Weaver sat down with our youth reporters to talk about their socio-emotional health, feminism and their hopes and fears about heading off to college. Listen to excerpts of their discussion below.
ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION: SUCCESS IN COLLEGE
Fishman-Weaver: So now you’ve all graduated, you’ve all chosen your school, and this is the summer before you leave. And I’m wondering, at this point in your life, what are your hopes and fears going into college?
Yang: When I chose a college, what I also did basically was choose a career plan, because I'm going straight into med school. And It's going to be really hard, and there's going to be no breaks to think about it. When I was making my decision, I was terrified. I had two separate fears: One was that I wasn't going to be good enough. That I had somehow fooled everyone so far in school. So I had to think in my head: "I know I can do this. I know I won't fail if I go." And it was really hard for me to believe that. And then the second, other, completely separate fear was, "What am I doing? I'm 18 years old! I don’t know what I’m doing with my life!"
Vu: Similar to what Michele said about fooling everyone, when I was applying to colleges I had this whole, "I'm probably not good enough." Like, people think I can get in, but there's no way, because there's, like, a million other people who are better than me.
Yang: We've all done really well in high school, but in college it feels like you can't carry it over. It doesn't feel related. Like your successes for your entire life up until now won't matter when you get to college. I don't know how true that is, but that's definitely what it feels like. Because you're just so intimidated by all these other people that you see, and you're like, "Oh no, I can't do this."
Tevis: I don't really know why I made the decision to go to Harvard. But, I did. I think I sort of did it because it was what was expected of me. But also because it was so hard for me to turn it down because it was kind of everything I'd been working for. But then of course I was staring it in the face and I was like, "Oh I don't wanna do that." Because I'm terrified. My mom has been nagging me recently and she says, "Everyone else seems to be more excited about you going to Harvard than you do." And I said, "Well that's because they don't have to go to Harvard." I'm the one who has to put in the work.
But I was reading the book Playing Big. And it talks about your inner critic, and that's the voice in your head that's always telling you not to do things and not to try for things. And it's always making definitive statements of, "You are not good enough." It's not trying to help you, it's definitely - she says it's trying to protect you from emotional harm. But it's limiting your options. And so, she says your inner critic always talks more and is louder and is more present in your mind when you're doing things that are going to let you play big and push you out of your comfort zone and try new things. And so I was thinking: "This is my moment for me right now. I'm feeling so scared because this is something that could, you know, set me up for success. Definitely pushing me out of my comfort zone"
ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION: FEMINISM
Fishman-Weaver: How has being a woman impacted your high school experience, your college application experience, or the perspective you bring to this group?
Vu: Being a woman, female, girl – all those things – I feel like in high school I had to prove myself a little bit more than other people. An example would be strength training. I signed up for advanced, and in that class there are a bunch of football players, wrestlers, and a few basketball players, like female basketball players. So I was, like, that random little short Asian girl in the corner doing my thing. I remember I walked in the first day and there were people just like looking at me kind of funny. And I was like oh, great. And so that gave me more motivation to get better and work harder. So last year, yeah, last year second semester, it was all the football guys and basketball girls. And they asked us to do our vertical. And little did they know, Emily Vu has a pretty good vertical. And I just did my thing, and coach Ofodile goes, "Whoa, that was pretty damn good!" Oh. Excuse me. He was like, "That was pretty darn good!"
Curry: I think as a woman, there are a lot of stereotypes that you either have to avoid or live up to, depending on your perspective. With college applications, you have to think: "Is this a group of males that are going to be looking at this? How do I want to sell myself?"
Yang: There was a moment when I was filling out college applications and I was doing this feminist thing, and so I was writing all this stuff down about why I was a feminist, and I was like, "Do I really want to draw attention to this?" I had that doubt. And then I was like, "Wait. Definitely." But, you know, you're just, like, trained to think that someone, somewhere will take that negatively. And I don't like that.
Tevis: I also wrote an essay about feminism for a thing, and I really I debated whether I should submit it because I had two versions, one was about something completely different, but then I thought that, you know, feminism is an integral part of me and definitely an integral part of the way my peers view me, so I decided to submit it. I did not get that thing that I was applying for, so I have no idea if that impacted it or not, but honestly, I feel good about submitting it because I know I was being true to myself. If you asked someone to describe me, one of the words would probably be feminist. And I think, I think I like that.