My proudest day of school was the day I dropped out. That was the day I declared my learning autonomy; the day I took direct action to occupy my education. I have Sierra College to thank for reigniting my passion for exploration and desire to learn. When I first graduated high school, college was the last thing on my mind. The busy work and pressures of public school had rid me of any interest in further studies. To me, school was a prison. Perhaps I felt that way because I had something to compare it to.
My name is LittleDove Rey and I am currently a first-year doctoral student in clinical psychology at the PGSP-Stanford Psy.D. Consortium, a program run jointly by Palo Alto University and Stanford University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. While I am now working towards an advanced degree, I did not always think that I would pursue higher education. Growing up, college felt very out of reach. I am a first-generation college student, and throughout my life I did not know anyone who had attended college. Despite this, my journey led me to Sierra College in Fall 2013, where my life course would transform and ultimately help set me on the path to where I am today.
My grandmother speaks vividly of life’s adventures, recounting details most lose with age—styles of brothers’ shorts, colors of Easter hats and childhood prayers recited in front of the fireplace. She recalls in similar sentiment the gentleness of her mother’s fingers knitting Christmas presents for 12 children and the clammy hands that clutched her small arms as Axis bombers flew overhead. A childhood lived, in part, under the dining room table and school desks, learning to hide from the worst. For all tragedy of WWII, my grandmother adored the American soldiers who shared chewing gum and oranges with the children of her rural British town. Now, 80 years later and decidedly settled in Northern California, she leaned back on her floral couch and shared stories of youth—of younger years tinged with travel, chance love and unlooked for peace.
The following is a sestina for grandmother April Pamela Moore (December 21, 1947-September 5, 2015), written by Sierra College student Brooklyn Shinabargar (Nisenan/Washoe) in English 20 with professor Barbara Nelson-Burns. Moore was a Sierra College alumni and granddaughter, Shinabargar is the president of the Native American & Pacific Islander Student Club.
You are the woman people admire,
The energy flows through your dance.
Shells and beads twinkle with you,
The ground trembles from your strength,
Still wind makes the moment last.
Proud to be yours, proud of your pride.
The goal of many transgender people in transitioning is to “pass.” That is, to have people, especially strangers, associate them with their true gender without question. Yet in a dichotomous society with a foundation of blue and pink, boys and girls, men and women (which gives rise to widespread transphobia in the first place), there is no room for people like me. There is a clear boundary, a crevasse that splits right down the middle of my forehead. “Are you a man or a woman?” No! Should I be?
Every morning, Haruka Ogawa would wake up to the sight of string lights above her dorm room bed, an experience so uniquely American for her. As she stepped out into the cold air to get ready for her day, her eyes would catch the memories of her old life hanging on the walls — a group photograph of her dance team, or a snapshot of her graduation ceremony from her high school back in Japan.
Just a few months prior, Ogawa was living in a suburban city outside of Tokyo, visiting the bustling metropolis each weekend with her friends. She was used to the colors, the sights, and the sounds of the place she grew up. Now she was walking through a campus of unfamiliar trees and faces, in a country where everyone spoke an unfamiliar tongue.