This piece accompanies Social Justice Standards: Unpacking Identity
Note: These are actual students who chose to share their stories.
What people don’t know about me is that I am actually Arab. My family is Muslim, but I grew up Catholic. I live with my grandma and uncle and do a lot of physical care for my grandma who is bedridden. I am a junior in high school and a middle child. I love to act, but when I am not on stage, I can be really shy. I have been depressed, and I come from a family that has some significant mental health issues. Lately, I have been really happy and things seem to be going well. However, my mom was just laid off and tries her best to provide for us, but we receive government assistance for food and medical coverage. Technically, my family lives below the poverty line.
What people don’t know about me is that I am a recent college graduate, looking for a job in advertising. People are always surprised to learn that I am actually 23 years old. I have a twin brother, and we live with our mom. My parents got divorced when I was young, and my dad has a pretty serious drinking problem. I am a dancer. I am pretty worried about my future, and I am not sure that I will ever be able to find a job in my field or even a job that will make me happy. My family struggles with money, and I wish that I could help my mom out more. I have felt lost a few different times in my life and struggle to ask for support and help when I need it. I am really creative and usually make the best of every situation.
What people do not know is that I am 100 percent Mexican. I am 17 years old and the oldest child in my family. I am Catholic but not really practicing. I am very close to my mom and do my best to help her in any way that I can. My mom has survived cancer twice. She inspires me to do my best in school and work hard in the world. My father is in prison. I have been diagnosed with depression and hospitalized for attempting suicide. I love to sing, and I want to be a music teacher. I am outspoken and can be stubborn. When my dad was incarcerated, my family lost our main source of income. That has been really challenging for my family and me. I do everything I can to stay positive and motivated, and I know that I will be able to accomplish my goals.