As a student at Ithaca College, I have developed a new perspective on life and human nature. Before college, I believed that we all worked based on prospects of individual gain; when considering a decision, people ask themselves, "How can this help me move closer to success and happiness?" However, the great community at Ithaca College, especially made up of the individuals involved with the MLK Scholars Program, the Center for the Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity, the Office of Student Engagement and Multicultural Affairs, the LGBT Center, the Committee for Inclusive Education, and so many student organizations, have completely proven that I was previously operating based on a false assumption.
This community has instilled high levels of hope in humanity, empowerment, and awareness that is invaluable. Now, I truly believe that the foundation of human behavior is built on a communal ethic; at our most natural state, we act based on the question of, "How can this help my community progress?" However, the concept and scope of community is expanded or contracted based on our process of socialization. As a sociology major, I like to focus on the different theoretical perspectives and studies that focus on concepts related to this idea: How do we connect or disconnect? What causes us to form groups or retreat to a life of isolation? Who holds the power to determine who is "the other" and why? What role does identity play in shaping one's experience of privilege and oppression? What have the great leaders and organizations in the past done to expand the community of people who work to improve the lives of people and groups other than themselves?
If our society, interactions, experiences and histories are what provide answers to these questions, then it is our responsibility, as members of our communities that make up society, to push each other in a direction of morality and inclusive principles, rather than disconnection and further marginalization of the oppressed. Like Dr. King, I believe that we can push forward the principles of social justice within the various career pursuits and involvement that we see fit. I believe that, as a student, as the professor that I hope to become, as a husband in the future, and even as a performer, I have to seek out the everyday actions and larger initiatives that is part of the larger goal of making a life out of social justice. The community plays the role of accountability (to remind us of this responsibility and our moral foundations), support (to provide us with the resources, role models, and empowerment to know the possibilities of what making a life out of social justice is all about), and order (to make sure that individuals or groups do not stand in the way of progress, social justice, and equal opportunity).
Currently, I am studying abroad at the Ithaca College London Center. My independent study looks at the questions of human nature and social justice so that I can document and provide evidence to the inquiry, "What does social justice look like to ME?" In the course Drama and the London Theater, I try to see how performers, playwrights, and companies use creative ways to express point of view about society in it's past, current, or possible states. In the course Sports in the UK, I try to investigate how journalists, clubs, and spectators build a sense of national unity and pride while simultaneously creating distance from other teams and the communities that support them. In the course Contemporary British Politics, I try to understand how the political system in the UK operates in ways different than the US to take care of the poor, children, our LGBT brothers and sisters. While studying abroad, I am working on various projects and initiatives to help improve my role as a member of Student Government Associate (SGA), publish and present on the research I have done in the past and will hope to do this summer at the University of Rochester, and develop my Global Case Study for Global Justice for the MLK Scholars Program.