University of Alabama
BackgroundInterview Date:December 2018
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Bisexual
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Public school in Elkhart, Indiana with about 650 students in the graduating class. There wasn’t a strong culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: Yes
Major: Business Management – Specializing in Real Estate and Entrepreneurship
Extracurricular Activities: I’m in UADM right now. It’s a dance marathon supporting the Alabama hospitals.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience? In what ways?
We get to visit Alabama hospitals and see the kids, connect with them, and meet their families. We went for Halloween, and the kids got to trick or treat in a wagon around the hospital. It was really fortunate for me to experience that, and it opened my eyes.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for Business Management?
It’s pretty easy right now. Freshman year I only had to take GBA, a one-credit required course for all business majors.
Is there anything you feel the Undergraduate Business School does especially well or especially poorly?
I get emails every day from Culverhouse Connections, where they offer career fairs and ways to prepare for interviews. I took my LinkedIn headshot there last year. They offer really great services and prepare you for what you’re about to enter. I’ve seen their Instagram page, and it seems like many students are getting internships through the program.
How would you describe the learning environment? Is it particularly competitive or collaborative?
I failed math last semester, so I’m taking it at a community college. Every professor I’ve had is very foreign, so it’s hard to understand what I’m being taught, and I get frustrated easily. I’m self-learning in my math courses, but I haven’t had a problem in any other classes. I usually study by myself because a lot of distractions are brought up when I’m studying with my friend group.
How accessible have the professors in your department been?
I’ve had really good professors. Last semester my English 102 professor really connected with me and we grew a good student-teacher relationship. He helped me a lot with excelling my writing and my grammar. The same happened in my Public Speaking class. Every professor I’ve had has been good so far. The math ones are who I don’t seem to do so well with.
Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
Growing up I’ve always wanted to be the leader, and I’ve always wanted to go into real estate. When I heard I could specialize in real estate and entrepreneurship with a Business Management degree, I thought that would look well on a resume.
How was transitioning academically as a first-generation college student? Are there systems in place that help you transition?
The transition to being a college student was a lot different. My parents still support me and pay for my schooling, but my American White friends seem to get a lot of things handed to them so easily. I see a difference in how students appreciate their parents. I’ve learned a lot about how my parents have raised me to work hard for what I want and what I have compared to it just being handed to me. My parents didn’t know anything about college and how else to live, and a lot of these kids have parents who are business owners and went to college. My parents are still learning.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on and around campus?
Freshman: Presidential Village I with one roommate. I moved to Marry Burke East without a roommate.
Sophomore: The Loft, but I’m moving into a house.
How was transitioning from your hometown in Indiana to Tuscaloosa, AL?
At first, it was really rough. I came in not planning to rush at all, and I didn’t think anything about it. I went there because I’ve wanted to go for a while and I was a big football fan. I got accepted and I expected it to be a normal college where we live in dorms for four years. It’s very different from home because students at Alabama care more about popularity and wanting to be the best and the prettiest and have the best things. Now when I come home, I don’t really see my friends as much because we’re different now. The transition from Indiana to Tuscaloosa made me realize I like the food up North more. Southern hospitality makes people a lot nicer than those up North. Even though people say Alabama is very conservative, I’ve dealt with a lot of great employees on campus, connecting with the dining hall staff and hearing their point of views both social and political. They seem to love their jobs and are happy. I’m much more respected in the South. [40% of students are from Alabama, and 57% are from out of state.]
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in?
Most of the time from Thursday through Saturday I go to the bars, such as Rounders. If there are day parties I’ll go if I’m on the list or have a wristband.
What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
I don’t think it’s really affected it. If a lot of my friends want to go to the frats and stuff, they’ll go, and depending on what fraternity it is I might go as well. I’ve never had trouble getting into a fraternity. It’s welcoming which I like because at Indiana University I know my friends can’t get into fraternities because you have to be on a special guest list two weeks before the event. Their bars are also strict, so they have to stay home and have a house party which is different for us. [34% of Alabama’s 33,000 undergraduate students are in a Greek organization.]
How has identifying as LGBTQ influenced your nightlife experience? Are there any LGBTQ nightlife options that you like to go to?
I was a little scared at first going out at Alabama because I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve never had a problem, and I have just as many guy friends as girl friends. My whole friend group is mixed and no one cares. It gets brought up a lot, but I’m never disrespected for it.
How happy are you with the nightlife? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I think it’s the best. It’s social and I like it because we interact and meet new people every night we go out.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I have about 15 people in my friend group, and through all of it, I think I’ve brought everyone in. My roommate freshman year is in my group, but his pledge brothers would always come over to our room so I became friends with them. I met girls in the elevator the day I moved in and they became my best friends, and then their friends became my friends. Some of the people date each other in the group, and we hang out probably five days of the week.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Alabama?
People are very social and I don’t really see anyone being left out. Whenever people are tailgating or at bars, you don’t see people alone. A lot of people go to the dining halls with their roommates or go out to eat with their friends.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I’m the only Asian in my friend group, and everyone else is White. I don’t think friend groups are generally diverse, and I don’t see different races going out together. Whenever I go out, it seems like it’s all White people going in their own groups and they stick together. A lot of Asian kids come into Midtown Village in their groups, with maybe a White person added to it. [The university is 76% White, 10% Black, 5% Hispanic, and 1% Asian.]
How strong is the LGBTQ+ community on campus?
I don’t know because I don’t have one friend that is part of the LGBTQ community, but I can tell when there are groups of them. I don’t have an interest in being friends because they’re different than me. I don’t expose myself the way they do. They seem to love it and not care what anyone says, and that’s good for them, but I like to walk on my tippy toes, especially in the area I’m in.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
When I committed to Alabama, the state recruiter connected me with someone in my area that went to Alabama. He has an alumni Facebook page, and they wanted to have a going away party for me even though I didn’t know any of them. He always invites me to the Facebook events they have even though I’m at school. They’ll have watch parties and stuff.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about your school specifically before you entered as a freshman?
I wish I knew a little more about Greek life. I would’ve liked to have more information on how to prepare for it.
What is something that a student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I don’t remember walking through Shelby Hall. It’s an area with a bunch of nice buildings where everyone takes pictures on their Snapchats.
Reasons to attend Alabama:
1) Football of course.
2) Academics aren’t that hard, and you get offered help many times through office hours or even just tutoring sessions.
3) We have really good amenities for being a student. Our football tickets are really cheap, we get to use an aquatic center, there are buses that take us from class to class, and the dining halls because you can get unlimited meal swipes. The dorms are also really nice.
4) I think we have the best Greek life in the nation. People are open to who can come to parties.
Reasons to not attend Alabama:
1) If you’re really not confident in who you are. Going to Alabama, there are lots of good looking people who present themselves to look the best, and I know that messes with people’s emotions.
2) There isn’t much diversity within friend groups.