All my life math was my best subject, and I narrowed down my favorite area of math to statistics after taking AP Statistics in high school and loving every part of the class. I stuck with the subject and college and am on my way to starting my upper divs!
What is a fun fact about you that few people know?
I can quickly recite the alphabet backwards!
What is your favorite song and why?
Put Your Records On - Corinne Bailey Rae This song reminds me of both my childhood and how I talk to myself when I am in my own headspace. It was released when I was only four years old, but it has rang in my head for over a decade. Whenever it would come on while my mom and I were cleaning the house on a Saturday morning, I would make her replay it again and again; at the time, my younger self only knew that it "sounded nice", but soon enough I understood why it was such a beautiful song. The line "don't you let those other boys fool you/gotta love that afro hairdo" brings in memories of my curly hair struggles I would have every morning before school. The line "sapphire and faded jeans/ I hope you get your dreams" reminds me of how I motivate myself when my self-esteem is low or I am just not feeling myself. This song has something special that other songs just don't have when I listen to it, which is why I consider it my theme! I also enjoy the newer version by Ritt Momney.
What is your current favorite streaming binge and why?
I have two - the first up is Dance Moms. Although the show ended a while ago, quarantine definitely re-awakened my past interest in this chaotic show. It's a mix of fighting, dancing, drama, and betrayal - sometimes when I have so many stressful factors going on in the real world, it almost feels like I am watching an alternate universe on Lifetime.com.
Second is Euphoria; fans like myself are still waiting on season 2, but I would definitely consider myself a superfan since its release in 2019.
What is your favorite hobby or activity you like to do in your free time?
Although running is my main hobby on the competitive side, for recreation I am currently learning how to roller skate! Gliding around in an empty parking lot in the evening with my music blasting brings a smile to my face. I'm still fairly new, so there have definitely been some falls as well.
How have your identities (race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender) affected your college experience?
Being a black queer woman has definitely opened up my eyes to the pros and cons of intersectionality. I have definitely found other students who have experienced a similar intersectional experience, especially in UCLA'S LGBTQ+ center where I work! It has been more than interesting to explore other intersections outside of my own as well via our annual QTBIPOC Experiences Research Study. On the other hand, having to deal with microaggressions, being cautious in white-dominated areas, and wishing I knew more about my true ethnicity like my other POC friends are some cons.
How do you practice self-care?
Self-care is a MAJOR priority in my life. When my room feels like it's caving in and is making my anxiety worse, I often go to my car to relax - a place I consider a safe space! I often talk to friends, have personal picnics, and just relax and listen to music in there. I also practice self-care by braiding my hair, allowing myself to cry in private, getting enough sleep, taking breaks when needed, asking for space, venting in the Notes app in my phone, and going for a run.
How are you adjusting to the "new normal" as we're emerging from this pandemic? Do you have any tips for other students who are going back to college this semester?
Masks feel second-hand to me now, and I actually feel a bit "off" if I am not wearing one. I don't wear one when I'm running, but I almost feel a spotlight on me if I am not wearing one in Target, even if everyone else isn't either. I am already mentally preparing myself for going back to in-person classes in the fall and dealing with "pandemic" college in general. I advise both myself and to others to not be hard on yourself if its hard to adjust at first, prioritize your mental health and self-care, and have a routine to help you out!
As a Point BIPOC Scholar, what is your message to other LGBTQ+ BIPOC students?
Being LGBTQ+ means having an identity that can either label you as beautiful or as dangerous by society, sometimes even in your own household - depending on your situation and environment, do what is best for you. As someone who has faked being heterosexual for a number of years for the sake of her own emotional and mental health, I am more than aware that the fight to be accepted for who you are can be exhausting. Hiding bisexual pins and flags in the corners of my room in car are familiar acts of my past; this is why I emphasize the importance of self-care. If you are not in a place where being open about your sexuality is welcome, find other ways to express and nurture yourself until the time is right and you have a sense of safety to show who you truly are. There will be others who you will cross paths with that will show a sense of acceptance and will welcome you as you are; this may take longer for some than others, but your story is one of the millions that show how resilient the queer community truly is!
This post’s responses were submitted by Point BIPOC Scholar Taylor Vassar (She/Her/Hers).
Taylor is currently studying statistics at the University of California, Los Angeles. Read more about the Point BIPOC Scholarship for LGBTQ students program here.