Friday, February 24, 2017

My First Personal Talk About Mental Health, O.J. Trial and Being a Black Girl at UC San Diego

Twenty years ago I started college at UC San Diego with a heavy heart and a lot of anger. I was carrying an emotional load following the O.J. trial because of how it affected my life and family.  I came to Southern California hiding a part of my identity and lying to people about my last name because I didn't know if they would hate or hurt me. Culture shock hit me hard too. The location of my campus, La Jolla, was so different than the diverse and pulsing Bay Area. The 18-year-old me was hurting.

What a difference 20 years of therapy, self-reflection and prayer makes. If you would've told me my first year of college that I would be sharing a personal story about my mental health and experience during the trial 20 years later at UC San Diego,  I would've laughed in your face and told you to get some help.

A few days ago I came full circle. I gave not one, but two of these talks at UC San Diego. I also encouraged the audience to maintain their mental health. I spoke to close to 200 student, staff and faculty. People gave me such positive feedback and thanked me for sharing my story. When I walked on campus in between presentations, students stopped me and thanked me. It was truly a blessing to share my story and to know I helped somebody. I thanked UCSD staff and classmates who helped me through my problems when I was a student. I'm so thankful for my sorors who made the trek out to support me.

I especially wanted to give this talk because many people have been on edge since the election. The racial climate, rumors, constant breaking news and tension remind me a of how I felt during the trial, but worse. I shared ways we can take care of ourselves during this time.

I'm working on bringing this talk to other campuses and conferences. If you work at a college, university, organization or know someone who does email me at jenee@cocoafly.com. Learn more here





Thank you so much to the Council of Provosts, Cross Cultural Center, OASIS, UCSD Student Affairs, Thurgood Marshall College, Black Staff Association, Office for Equity, Diversion and Inclusion; Black Resource Center, Women's Center and SPACES (Student Promoted Access Center for Education and Service) sponsoring my presentations.


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