Smalls Talk: Identity

Saray Smalls welcomes Appalachian State's Associate Director of Multicultural Student Development Lindy Wagner to the studio to discuss the topic of identity. The two explore the many facets of identity and why it's important for college students to discover their own identities.


  • Saray Smalls: Hey everyone, this is Saray Smalls and this is Smalls Talk. This podcast is designed to be the ultimate quickie that will provide you with the energy you need to make informed decisions concerning your total well being as a college student. Each episode of Smalls Talk will feature one of the eight dimensions of wellness including social, emotional, physical, environmental, spiritual, intellectual, occupational and financial. Today’s episode focuses on two of those areas. Emotional, it continues process of develop that includes the ability to maintain relationships, deal with conflict and stress. Today we will also feature social wellness. Which includes the ability to interact with the people around you as relates to communication, building relationships and creating support systems including peers, friends and family.

    So today, I am super excited to have with me Lindy Wagner who is our associate director of the multicultural student development. Hi Lindy

    Lindy Wagner: Oh, Hi!

    SS: How are you doing?

    LW: Great! How are you doing today?

    SS: I am great it’s just so happy to be in your presence.

    LW: Same here.

    SS: Awesome. Lindy you work in Multicultural Student Development, or MSD as it’s also referred to. Tell us a little about your department.

    LW: Yeah, absolutely. Multicultural Student Development is in the Plemmons Student Union second floor, suite 265. We have a few professional staff members as well as some undergraduate staff and graduate students. We essentially are the umbrella for all the historically marginalized or underrepresented student populations. We essentially aim to support, provide resources, do advocacy work, allyship. We actually even help with some advocacy conversations as well on our campus. It is essentially a hub for our students to meet. We also oversee the Multicultural Center, the LGBT Center and the Women’s Center. So a lot of our students come to us in that manner as well by being volunteers or by being people who attend and hang out there. We do a lot of pragmatic pieces as well as education and outreach. We do a lot of trainings for faculty, staff, students...all of those types of things.

    SS: I know that you mentioned different marginalized groups that MSD reaches out to. What if I’m not in a marginalized group? Like what if I am a white male? Am I welcomed in MSD?

    LW: Yep. I think that aligns with what we talk about with advocacy and allyship. I think that our work includes people who are maybe not in those marginalized groups, but feel some sort of affirmation toward supporting or being at least more knowledgeable because we know that a lot of times, in the real world, when there’s things happening, it’s not only people who have identities, but also to people who can serve as strong allies and who can make things happen. So our office does a lot of education as well. So absolutely, anybody can use our services. It is just that we are definitely here to make sure we have support for some of our students that might feel marginalized in that area.

    SS: So lets start the conversation. I am not going to tell you the topic. Lindy and I are going to play a game. I am going to ask Lindy who are you and she is going to answer and that is going to be our game for like the next minute. So listen up. So Lindy, who are you?

    LW: I am a woman

    SS: Who are you?

    LW: I am cisgender

    SS: Who are you?

    LW: I am multiracial

    SS: Who are you?

    LW: I am a first generation college student

    SS: Who are you?

    LW: A Christian

    SS: Who are you?

    LW: A sister

    SS: Who are you?

    LW: A friend

    SS: Who are you?

    LW: A partner

    SS: Who are you?

    LW: I am Latinx

    SS: Oh? I like that there.

    LW: Yeah write that down.

    SS: I need to learn what that means.

    LW: I am sure we will get into it.

    SS: Who are you?

    LW: I am white.

    SS: Who are you?

    LW: I’m short.

    SS: Who are you?

    LW: Umm, hmm. I am, oh my gosh, temporarily able-bodied.

    SS: Okay good, so lots of identities that Lindy brought up. I actually wrote down Latinx, which I am very curious to learn what that means. So I can’t wait for her to tell me. Today’s topic is about identities. Who are you? There are eight major identities we think about that make up a person in our relation to other people. There are primarily eight large identities. You mentioned that you are a woman. You mentioned that you are multiracial, but you also mentioned that you are white as well. So I am assuming that you are mixed with white?

    LW: Yes!

    SS: Yeah?

    LW: It’s like you know me!

    SS: You also mentioned that you are a partner and that you are a friend and all these others. Please tell me a little bit about some of those identities and why you mentioned those.

    LW: Absolutely. Well I would also say it is really important, when we talk about identities, part of how I identify is my personal relationship to that identity, but it’s also based on how society sees me. A lot of times we always need to remember that how we identify is usually socially constructed by the society that we live in. The US helps us to define whether we like that or not, sometimes how we choose to identify and how we are identified because there’s always the perception of who we are as well as how I identify. So for me, some of the things that I identify with are some of those big eight identities that we discussed. For me, some of those that are pretty relevant are constructed by things like race and gender. Those type of things stick out a lot. I chose a lot of those because they resonate with me. Some of them tend to be more value related or much more based on how I see myself in a group. Those tend to be more affinity type of groups, rather than a social identity, such as sister or friend. That is kind of how I relate to some of those different identities.

    SS: Cool. One of the reasons we decided to talk about identity today, especially for college students is that your identity is so important. It is an idea, like you mentioned early, of how you see yourself, but also how you relate to others. In college that’s exactly what we are trying to do. We want to relate. We want people to like us. It could be a matter of trying to erase who we used to be in high school and trying to start fresh. Essentially, there is a lot of self-reflection that is happening. Trying to understand, who am I really? We wanted to talk about these eight things because that’s kind of where that conversation starts. Thinking back to when you were in college, Lindy, and I am even sitting here thinking about oh my gosh college, I wanted to have it all together, but I knew nothing. I knew nothing. Thinking about when you were in college, which of those identities that you were talking about do you think was most salient, was most important to you at that time as a college student.

    LW: Yeah, well definitely. I think for me there were a lot of different factors that played into why they were important, but definitely one of them was being a first generation college student. For me, it was a big deal to be going to college. I went to a small private school, about the same size as my high school, so that was impactful for me to really know everybody that I went to college with. Being a first generation college student was really challenging because I had no idea what I was doing. I mean, there were moments where people were talking about financial aid packages. What is subsidized and unsubsidized? I didn’t have a clue or even like an advisor. Who do you go? Who do you talk to to help you be successful? I had no idea. So I think that was especially salient for me at that point because there were people who were clearly legacy students of some sort who had been to school lots of times. Their grandparents had been to college and they just knew what they were doing. For me, that was definitely an identity that meant a lot to me at that point because I realized how much it was impacting my experience. So I think for me that was one.

    I also think that at the time, being Christian, my faith and religion, was really relevant especially because the private school I chose was affiliated with the faith that I belonged to.

    SS: Yeah. We have that in common

    LW: Yeah, exactly! That does make a difference because there are some things that you experience at a private school that you wouldn’t at a public school.

    SS: Like what?

    LW: Well…(chuckles)

    SS: Give it to me.

    LW: Like church. Like services or how God is incorporated into conversations and student organizations. It was a little bit different in that sense. That’s a thing that private schools, maybe in housing or things like that, there are different restrictions that they can place on you that they can’t place at a public school. I learned a lot about different ways things were funded. How the federal government contributes funding verses how endowments work. That’s something that as a student I didn’t necessarily think about, but I saw how things played out when a program was named after a legacy, someone who had been there twenty years ago and their grandchildren were there. I think I learned a lot about private and public in that realm. Especially now having worked at public schools, it’s a lot different.

    SS: Yeah, Yes definitely

    LW: Definitely the faith based Christian thing was something that I really explored because there was church on Wednesday and Sunday and again all those kinds of things. I think for me that was relevant. I also think that college is a point of exploration. We are talking about ourselves and how that relates to society. Religion is often something that is incorporated into our lives from a very young age. Whatever that may be, whether that’s a specific religion or not having a religion. I think that college for at that point was a lot about self exploration as it relates to religion because as you become more educated and more critically competent about thinking and experiencing things, I think it makes you want to challenge long held value systems and beliefs. So I think that’s why I explored a lot of that.

    SS: That was something that was important to you?

    LW: Yeah! I think for me a lot of times in faith-based traditions specifically, there’s a need to accept no matter what. I think a lot of times your faith can only be strengthen if you critically exam things. I think not everyone always does that. I think that that was something I learned about myself personally during that time, so that was good.

    SS: And I think that’s what’s cool about going into college. You have all these values and beliefs that are placed on you when you are growing up based on your parents, your grandparents, your culture and your heritage. So when you get to college and you’re not so much not entrenched in that anymore, but you no longer have that strong influence from your parents anymore. There is a sense of freedom, but with that freedom there is a sense of responsibility to kind of learn and figure things out for yourself. Whether that’s religion, whether that’s your gender or sexual orientation. It’s like this is the time when I can finally decide who I am for me. Right? I think that it’s a good time.

    LW: Oh my gosh, absolutely. Not only is it a time for exploration, but it also creates this dissonance that happens because you might go home and people might not understand like how you’re exploring identity, whether that’s faith, sexual orientation, gender, all those types of things. I think that for college students, that’s another thing that people need to be aware of that when you explore your identities, you never know what that means for the rest of the people in your life. Especially when, being a first generation college student, there were plenty of times I would go home and people would be like “Oh you are a different person, you don’t talk the same.” So I think that being first gen also relates to other kinds of identities that you are exploring. Like if you become more confident in your sexual orientation because you really understand it better or if you become more confident in your femininity or masculinity or how you gender express, things of that nature, that might be challenging when you encounter people from other parts of your life. I think that is why college is so important for students to really build a solid foundation with themselves with their identity because that’s really the only way they can be authentic. Once you build that foundation, then you can be authentic in other places of your life as well.

    SS: Okay funny. I have a confession. So when I was in college, it was so funny. If anybody that I went to college with heard this podcast, they would probably start laughing really loudly. So when I think about what was salient or important for me at that was definitely religion, definitely socio economic status and partly my age at that time too. But with those three things combined, I was super judgmental in college.

    LW: I think a lot of people are.

    SS: Yeah.

    LW: I think because it is an extension of high school too.

    SS: Yes, I just felt like everyone should be, you know, type A.

    LW: Yep.

    SS: Everyone should fit into this box.

    LW: Check, check, check.

    SS: Yes! Why are you doing this? Or what do you mean you identity this way? I did not get it. It was just a lot of gray area that I didn’t understand. I just remember thinking this. And I remember people would look at me with this face like; girl just stop talking, why are you talking like this and you need to grow. Fortunately that growth did happen, but it did take time. So you don’t come into college having it all together.

    LW: I hope not

    SS: Yes

    LW: Because then what are we here for?

    SS: Yes, don’t come in here knowing everything so that I can still get paid. We set students up thinking that they are supposed to have it all together coming into college. And it’s like no, we want you to learn and grow. Even fellow college students amongst each other we want to be a little bit more accepting and we want to learn and grow. That’s what we want to happen. Talking to you all in this podcast, we are talking to those that have definitely dug into identities and who are becoming more confident. To those that haven’t even begun to scratch the surface we encourage you to do so as well.

    Something that I have to ask, Lindy you mentioned that you are Latinx?

    LW: Yes, Latinx, Yes.

    SS: Okay so what is Latinx? What is that?

    LW: That’s a good question. The term has been around for a fear years, I want to say maybe around 2014 it was coined. It is basically a term that is more inclusive for all the people that identify in the Latino, Latina, Latinx category. The idea being that Latino/Latina is gendered. Although Latino can be considered holistic, it’s not really always. Latinx includes people who might not identify in the traditional standard of the binary of what male and female are. For me, it is easier to identify as Latinx because not only does include me as being in the spectrum of identity, but it also expresses that I am inclusive as well. When I identify that way people who identify that way as well can know that they can find allegiance in the fact that I identify that way as well.

    SS: That’s cool. That brings me to another point, with identity. Whether you’re in college or in your adulthood and you want to learn about someone else’s culture, heritage, identities. Was I correct in asking you what Latinx meant or should I have Googled it?

    LW: Oh gosh, I think this is a great question. I think that there is even distances in the communities of conversations and here’s the two factors that kind of play into it. Relationship because we know each other. So of course if you want to find out something that you are unfamiliar with, you would ask me. But if we were strangers and you were to ask, then it might be more appropriate for you to ask, “Can you tell me more about that?” or “I haven’t heard that term before, is there a way that I can learn more about that?” The option then becomes, do I want to educate this person or if they are asking, “How do I learn more about it?” then I can say, “Well if you Google…” or “There is this article, newspaper, or journal where the article is published.” So that provides me the option to educate, but also the out to say, “Yeah, Google it.” or “A better person to talk about this is xyz person.” I think that the relationship matters. I also think too that context matters. So if we are in a setting where I’m doing a presentation or a program and I’m clearly talking about identity and I have opened the floor up, I expect people to ask those questions. I have those a lot where people say, “Hey can you clarify this?” or “ what does that mean” and I’ll go into more detail. If it’s in passing and someone say, “Hey I heard you say this word, what does that mean?” Then it again goes back to me being provided the opportunity. I think that’s some things to be considered, context and then relationship. I think one important thing to be considered is that a lot of times people ask questions about identities out of curiosity. I think that curiosity is sometimes a privilege that people have. I think that in the US, we have this blank to check boxes and to define people in a way that fits into a box. When people don’t fit into a box, our natural inclination is to ask why and then to ask that person why don’t you fit into my box. I think that sometimes can put a lot of pressure onto the person to identify when they don’t necessarily want to.

    SS: Like if I asked you, “Hey Lindy, where you from?”

    LW: Right, and I would be like, “Well, what do you mean?”

    SS: Or to just be like, “Well, I’m from North Carolina.” And then they say, “No where are you really from?” Yeah, like you’re trying to put me into a box.

    LW: Yeah absolutely. So you can see me and you have seen me before. Some people would classify me as racially ambiguous. And I say that in quotes, even though listeners can’t see that, because that means that I can’t check a box a for you. I think that you are something, but I’m not quite sure.

    SS: It is also thought of as erotic too.

    LW: Eroticized, over sexualized. I have gotten a lot over the years of, “Well, what are you?” and I think that is really problematic because what implies object and objectification. I’m not a thing. I’m a person. I think that kind of relates to the point that if you don’t know how someone fits into your box, why do you need to know? Do you really have to know in order to interact with that person, or is it just to satisfy your curiosity? If it really is just to satisfy your curiosity, maybe wait until you have a relationship with that person and let them disclose or let it be part of the conversation at that point. What’s the need there? I think there is a difference between asking someone to identify and asking someone some information that they shared.

    SS: Okay gotcha. So essentially, for our listeners, if you see Lindy on the street and you just walk up like, “Hey girl what up, what are you?” Lindy probably won’t answer as nice. But if you set up an appointment with her and ask, “Hey Lindy, I just want to learn a little more about you.”

    LW: I would say, “Yeah sure come on in. Let’s talk.’

    SS: So there is definitely a way of going about doing that.

    LW: Yeah absolutely.

    SS: We’ve talked a little bit about your identity and thinking about how college students relate to each other. Why is identity important? Why does that matter? What is it about sitting in a class with somebody or being at a club meeting with somebody, especially in Boone, especially at App that’s so important to having an understanding of identity or an understanding of who someone is?

    LW: Oh my gosh, I could go on forever about this, Saray, this is definitely what I do. Well for me, ‘identity work’ is what I call it, some people call it some other things. Identity work is so valuable for multiple things. I think first off, we can never be our best selves unless we really understand ourselves and I think a lot of times, most people aren’t encouraged to critically reflect on themselves in that matter. Even if you have dominant or subordinate identities, if you have group identities that are privileged and ones that are ultimately oppressed in different ways, we don’t necessarily explore those identities so it makes us not able to understand ourselves as a person. For me, ‘identity work’ is important for you to start with because it helps you know yourself as a person and I think that you can only be your best self for others when you do know yourself, so I do think identity work is important in that manner. And that means in the classroom, that means in greater society, in your career once you’ve chosen it. I mean, you can continually be the best version of yourself if you continually critically reflect, if you continually think about who you are and why you are that way, what values are you upholding, what systems are in place to keep you where you are and change how you experience the world. And so I think ‘identity work’ is valuable in that sense, especially in college because you’re learning all sorts of things in the academic setting but also in the curricular setting; student organizations or attending events, I think you learn a lot about who you are and that’s why I think ‘identity work’ is so important because whether you’re an individual, working on a team or again, in greater society it’s best to know yourself because you can best serve others that way.

    SS: Yeah and I think with knowing yourself there’s this new level of self-love and appreciation right?

    LW: OF course!

    SS: So, this year with my New Year’s resolutions that I set up I was really trying to get further into my identities and which ones were most salient to me and have conversations around those identities and go to lectures and events that would further help me develop those identities. Those three were my race; I identify as black, some people identify as African American, I’m cool with black, I totally embrace everything that it has to offer. Another identity that was relatively important to me now is gender; I also identify as female, learning more about my woman-ness and what that means as far as interactions that I have with other women, interactions that I have with men or transgender individuals, etcetera, so trying to get a better understanding of what that means for me. I had a conversation recently with a friend and even my mom about getting married and typically with women there’s taking of the husband’s last name and I also identify as heterosexual which is another one that’s really salient to me as well. So, when I got married, would I take my husband’s last name--

    LW: The faithful question, are you an independent woman or are you passive?

    SS: Right and it’s like, you don’t have to be in either box. I feel that the way I was raised was take my husband’s last name and do it because, that’s what you do but is it acceptable or okay to think “would I hyphenate, or would I not take his last name?” or “ would he still love me?” So thinking about those things that society has told me--that I’m supposed to take his last name--

    LW: And family too with friends and society because it’s been indoctrinated into everyone not just you but to your family and your friends too so society is saying that this is what you’re supposed to do so of course you’re having the conversation with your family and friends.

    SS: So with my identities, I’m trying to find some sense of independence that makes Saray happy. What is it that’s best for me? What will make me the best me so that I can be great for someone else as well? So those are the three identities that are super salient for me right now. What three do you think are the most salient for you, Lindy?

    LW: Well, similar, I think two of them actually I think are pretty similar so I think my womanhood as well. Identifying as a female, being cisgender, interpreting all those things that I represent are relevant and I think also it relates back to what you were saying about the story about marriage. I’m at that age where I think a lot of people are always asking “are you married yet?” .... Yet. Like you have to be married, like the clock is ticking.. Or kids, “don’t you have any kids?” or “don’t you want any kids?” –

    SS: As if that’s our purpose in life. We won’t get into that.

    LW: That’s a whole other podcast. But yeah, I think that’s very relevant for me especially as I feel productive in my career. A lot of people think I’m a different person because I’ve chosen career or that I’m a different person because I don’t have certain things but I have a partner, I have a partner that has children so I’m around children so I do want that life. I have it. So I think that’s a lot of what happens in my conversations with friends and family, so like you said, womanhood. I definitely think race is still relevant, we’ve already talked about my identity in that sense so I do think that continually becomes a conversation for me personally. I’m working on my PhD so I’m working on multiracial identity so it’s always salient to me. As I explore it more I think my life progression has changed, not on how I identify but what it means to identify a certain way so that’s definitely something that I continue to explore. That whole ‘critical reflection’ thing that I talked about, that’s one that I’m always doing. I’m trying to think what the third one would be definitely--maybe I mentioned heterosexually but that’s something that I’ve reflected a lot about as well. I definitely think that there’s some privilege that goes into being heterosexual. The normative idea that in society it’s okay for me to walk down the street holding hands with my partner without facing the repercussions or danger and stuff like that so I think that’s something I’ve considered a lot more too.

    SS: That brings me to another point, you mentioned earlier that you’re cisgender. What is that? What does that mean for you?

    LW: That’s a great question. So for cisgender for those who are curious, or haven’t heard the term before especially, cisgender means that my biological sex, the sex that I was assigned when I was born; so that could have been male, female or intersex based on the parts I had or what the doctor interpreted I had. I was assigned female at birth and my gender performance, or my gender identity matches that. So I do essentially express as someone who identifies as female. At least, as a societal perception of what that means so as a result my gender and my biological sex match therefor I’m cisgender. ‘Cis’ essentially applies static so there’s no motion on whether I identify as that or not. I would argue that there are different spectrums of what masculinity and femininity look like and how that becomes gender performance. That’s definitely relevant for me, as I think about how I perform and what that means. I also think that goes into behavior and things of that nature. I also think that being a woman in that profession of course and what my behaviors are and whether that would be interpreted as masculine or feminine and how that looks like and how that’s interpreted in that conversation and I think that goes for actions as well.

    SS: That reminds me, I too identify as cisgender, I was born a female, I identify as a female etcetera. Thinking back to middle school and being that awkward teen and trying to figure out my hair and my attire and whatever. I can remember being in middle school, transitioning from middle school to high school. I can remember being in middle school and wearing jeans and pants and things a lot. Super easy, super comfortable, I don’t have to worry about crossing my legs and I can run outside with the boys and I’ll be okay and no one is looking at my underwear or whatever. I remember going into high school and she made this rule, shout out to my mom she’s totally awesome and great parent o no shade to her but she made this rule that I had to wear skirts twice a week to school and I never asked her, even now I feel like I’ll have to call her tonight and ask her about it but I never asked why she did that but I think my assumption was that she was concerned that I was always wearing pants and somewhat maybe dressing like a boy or doing boy-like things. I have two older brothers so innately I wanted to do the things that the boy did so for me, at that time, it wasn’t a big deal because I remember thinking “well, I like skirts I just have to buy some” or “oh this would be cute” or “now I have to shave my legs, I have to put on lotion” and “yeah there are extra steps that you got to do when wearing skirts.”

    LW: Or do you have to or are you doing it because society is telling you it’s the right choice?

    SS: well society is telling me that I need to shave my legs at the age of 14--challenge accepted, bring on the razors. So yeah I started wearing skirts twice a week and when school first started and I was a freshman I remember her checking to make sure it was twice a week and then after a while it was innate, I did it myself. My assumption later in life was maybe she was just trying to make sure I was “girly” --

    LW: Yup, expressing your femininity and accept it as that.

    SS: Right, so now gender is important for me now because I realize I have this privilege in the fact that I do identify with the parts that I was born with so that skirt challenge wasn’t even a challenge. It was like, “Okay mom, cool” but thinking about someone else it’s like liking about someone else who may not identify as a woman or who may not feel comfortable in articles of clothing that are aligned with femaleness or woman-ness, having to wear a skirt could be the most terrifying-- like “oh my gosh are you serious? I have to shave my legs” --

    LW: Like “why would I want to do that? That doesn’t feel comfortable for me” that doesn’t express, even for someone who identifies as female, that may not express my femininity. Who says that I have to wear a skirt in order to be--

    SS: Right, wearing a skirt doesn’t make you female at all. So again, thinking about this conversation is really trying to decide who you are for you at this point in your life--

    LW: Because that’s who matters most.

    SS: Right so thinking with this podcast, each episode each episode will include some type of challenge for the listeners so we can’t just leave you all this great information and say “oh go off into the world” we’ve got to give you a challenge. Your challenge for this episode is to really think about three, we keep using the number three, I don’t know. Try thinking about three identities that are really important for you right now or even identities that you would like to learn more about or discover because I don’t think we ever really listed all of the identities so I’ll go ahead and do that now for you guys. Race, ethnicity, and while we’re here, Lindy will you mention the difference between race and ethnicity because those are often coupled together.

    LW: I would agree. I think a lot of times people will assume that if you’re a certain race you’re a certain identity and vice versa and that’s not often the case. Race is a socially constructed idea of what race mean and a lot of times it aligns directly with the US census so if the US census says that’s a race then that’s a race whereas ethnicity is associated with cultural norms, values, a set of systems that’s in place with a specific culture so often Hispanic, Latino, Latinx, that’s associated with ethnicity while I would argue that society set it up to be a racial category technically according to the systems it’s an ethnicity but it could also be something like Russian or some other cultural identity is ethnicity whereas race is what people perceive to be the constructed race.

    SS: Race, ethnicity, we also have religion, gender, sexual orientation, ability, age and socioeconomic status. Earlier I know Lindy mentioned that she is currently able bodied so thinking about ability is physical ability, mental ability, and your ability to perform in certain areas.

    LW: Yes and how it changes over time.

    SS: I think that is one that a lot of people never really take into consideration. Thinking about being at App especially you think about walking from the JET Building over to Miles Annas and that's difficult if you are abled body.

    LW: Agreed there is some huffing and puffing at the end it’s like “get me some water!”

    SS: I can only imagine what that's like for someone who is not necessarily able body that has crutches or needs assistance in some manner getting from one campus side to another for that side can be hard. Those are the eight identities that I want you guys to take some time and think about over the course at this time at App. Think about those identities and your challenge is to think about how you can further develop those identities. Where on campus can you go that will help you develop those identities? We have mentioned multicultural student developments also the LGBT Center if you are feeling anything right now with your sexual orientation. If you are struggling with your socioeconomic status and is something that is relevant for you right now then definitely reach out to financial aid. If you want to explore your ability whether able bodied or not and you want to learn more about that reaching out to disability service, but also UREC and all these other places across campus. Find an area on campus that will help you to develop your identity, that is part one, and part two is finding a club or organization that you can align yourself with that will help you further develop whatever identity you come up with. For me as an example as a black woman here at App if I were a student may join Black Student Association. That can be a space for me specifically to learn more about others who are very much like me. Then the third part of this challenge is to connect with students who have different identities from you. So once you have figured out yours you’ve spent some time and built some relationships with other people. Really spend some time with them and get to learn more about them. So although both Lindy and I identify as woman, we both identify as cisgender and heterosexual I recognize that our race and ethnicity are different. Much of our conversation is about learning more in that realm. Take time and have conversations with students whether that is going to a club meeting of a group that is different than you or hanging out at some of these different retreats whether that is Intersect or LeaderShape, but then volunteer opportunities. The ACT office has tons of stuff going on, shout out to Kate. The ACT office often has several volunteer opportunities for students and that is another area where you can connect with students outside of the classroom. What are our takeaways from today? What are our lasting memories? You define you.

    LW: Yes and you matter.

    SS: You do matter! Yeah you do.

    LW: Yes you matter most and the reason you matter most us because the best you is going to be the best you for everybody else. Take the time to explore and learn about yourself. Do it in an authentic way and learn about others in an authentic way.

    SS: It’s okay to be inquisitive and want to learn. This is what you are here to do. College isn’t all about sitting in class and getting statistics, but really taking time to learn about other people. We definitely encourage you all to do that. Bringing this connection back to the two areas of wellness that we mentioned earlier both emotional and social…we identified those two because identity doing some searching around that is internal, so doing it for yourself. Like you mentioned earlier though it will affect your social environment. It will affect those that you relate with, those that you differ from and the connections that you are able to make with them as well.

    As you all know every episode of Smalls Talk will feature a song selection and this week is one of my favorites. It’s a super cool artist who I am by the way I’m not related to.

    LW: What?

    SS: Everyone when I was younger used to ask me if I was related to Biggie Smalls because of the same last name.

    LW: I can’t believe you’re not!

    SS: Are you serious right now?

    LW: Hahaha No!

    Stop it and of course I am not related to Biggie Smalls because that is not his real name. His real name is Christopher Wallace a lesson in Hip-Hop. So today’s song is by the “Notorious B.I.G”.

    (Music Playing)

    SS: Just for the record me and Lindy are totally dancing to this. If you have never heard Juicy…the name of the song is “Juicy” definitely go and give it a listen. If you have heard it before go and listen to it again. A side note…I feel like every Hip-Hop artist that is out right now should know the lyrics to this song. Like if Drake didn’t know the lyrics to this song I would call his manager right now and have him fired. That is unacceptable. Go listen to “Juicy” you can YouTube it or find it on iTunes and think about the identities that are being discussed. Biggie Smalls or the “Notorious B.I.G” is rapping about his life where he was and where he is now when he recorded this song. Listen to some of the identities that he mentions and think about the ones that are the most salient for him. So of the eight we discussed which of those eight come up in this song. This is your song selection homework for this episode. That is all I have. Do you have anything else Lindy?

    LW: No I think this was great and I appreciate the time. I hope everyone enjoys the conversation.

    SS: Again you can see, meet or schedule an appointment with Lindy in the Multicultural Development Center located on the second floor of Plemmons Student Union. Her email address in case you want to drop her a line or just tell her she is totally awesome. Also if you want to grab coffee with her or need someone to talk to if you are struggling with something.

    LW: I would definitely be open to talk with you.

    SS: Definitely email Lindy. Lindy what is your email address?

    LW: It is so w-a-g-n-e-r-l-m at and you are also more than welcome to call the office 828-262-6158.

    SS: Awesome thank Lindy and thank you all for listening.

    Dave Blanks: You've been listening to Smalls Talk with Saray Smalls. Wellness and Prevention Services are located on the second floor of the Miles Annas Building. You can contact that office by calling 828-262-3148 to learn more about the services offered. You can also contact Saray by email at