By: UF student Kaleb Jai Brown
Shared From: The Courier
Sept. 26, 2021
When I transferred to the University of Findlay, I was 20 years old and thought I had it all figured out. I was a student athlete pursuing a degree in physical therapy. Little did I know that coming to UF would change everything for me. Within the first month of arriving, I found a home in The Buford Center for Diversity and Service Office. There I met students that were different from me, learned about opportunities to advance my career outside of the classroom, and engaged with faculty that would eventually become my colleagues and chosen family. This enabled me to learn about myself and the world in ways that I never would have imagined.
I was fortunate enough to interact with numerous campus groups while serving in various leadership positions. From leading international service programs with Oilers Serving Abroad to serving on Student Government, I was able to form many connections and friendships.
For example, Olunife Akinmolayan and I met my senior year through the Buford Center Pre-Orientation Program where I served as his mentor. Our common interests in music and pursuing careers in health professions led to what is now a lifelong friendship. We both served on Student Government, Residence Life, student representatives on the board of trustees, and were both awarded the prestigious Founders’ Son award.
Being involved at UF allowed me to gain many unique insights about how to best navigate my college experience.
From studying abroad and serving in multiple countries, I now have friends in many places around the world. Many relationships were built with locals while serving alongside other students in Dominican Republic and Ecuador. My experiences at UF, on and off campus, domestically and internationally, all provided me with several diverse outlooks and helped change my ethnocentric views, become culturally competent, and have a greater appreciation for the vast cultural differences of the world.
Following graduation in May 2018, I accepted a job as an English Teacher in Beijing, China. After a year of teaching, I began serving as a Health Volunteer in Peace Corps Ghana. Three months later, the COVID-19 pandemic began, and all volunteers were evacuated from their countries worldwide. I never considered what it would be like to return to a “shut down” America and experience reverse culture shock in this sense. I learned that some things that happen in life are inevitable; there will be times that situations are out of our control. It is not about what happens, but how we react, adjust, and re-approach situations that will determine the outcome for us. Despite the pressure and insecurity the pandemic created, I knew the best choice was for me to further my education in order to continue making a difference in the world of healthcare.
I know firsthand the impact UF can have on its students. To return as a Graduate Assistant in the same office I first called home motivates me to reach as many students as possible. This position will afford me the opportunity and platform to help better UF by continuing to build relationships across cultural backgrounds, serve our global community, and be a catalyst for change. I understand the importance of growing outside of the classroom in order to have a meaningful life and productive career, and it is my hope to ensure that other students are able to benefit fully from the UF mission as well.
Brown is a graduate assistant at the University of Findlay.