As someone who has seen thousands of Antiochians pass by, this “Buffalo” has often seen someone who is on their way to being a catalyst and who will win some victories for you-know-who. Derrick TRUTH Garrett ’20 certainly is someone whose positive energy you sense a few conversations into knowing him. He is a recipient of one of this year’s Winning Victories Grants. I am thankful he took some time to share his Antioch adventure as a student who is somewhat seasoned by being around 20 years older than most. So have a moment of TRUTH at the very least!
My journey to Antioch College is like a chapter straight out of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. In the book, a young shepherd named Santiago learns to follow his dreams. It is a dream that will take him off the normal path he chose for himself long ago. Santiago’s new journey actually aligns with his overall true goals. His passion for following his dreams ultimately pointed him back to where he started. Santiago never liked living in his original town and chooses to become a traveling shepherd to travel. Similarly, I have used my talents along with my dreams as my passport to leave the Midwest. How was I to know my treasure would be buried in a small Ohio college?
My first introduction to the college was 1999. I landed the lead role in a play called Sleep Deprivation Chamber by Adrienne and Adam Kennedy. (A Buffalo note: Adrienne Kennedy’s two sons Joe’ 76 and Adam ’83 are grads.) I did not know much about the school at the time. Doing my research, I learned of Antioch’s history of activism and its lengthy list of notable alumni and professors. I grew up a huge fan of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone. His ability to take hard-to-discuss subjects and encase them in weirdly entertaining sci-fi storylines led me to experiment similarly with my own audio and visual creations. It felt wonderful and almost prophetic to be at his alma mater exploring the pedagogy of Hip-Hop.
As a student at Antioch, I was blessed with great opportunities. My Co-op was the perfect opportunity for the further development of my Hip-Hop education curriculum. The idea of being able to design a blueprint to direct your career path is what drew me to Antioch College. When I first applied to Antioch, I was not accepted. When Shane Creepingbear ’08 called me with the sad news our conversation lasted well over 45 minutes. During this conversation, thankfully, he was able to get a picture of Truth Garrett that the application did not provide.
Community experience at Antioch I believe was an incredibly unique experience. In some ways, I felt instantly a part of the Antioch community. I did not, however, envision myself being one of the few older students on campus. My age put me in a weird space amongst my new peers, but as I persevered through my Antioch experience, true friendships were forged. I felt a deep connection while attending an Antioch Reunion for the first time in 2018. The same Reunion planted the seeds for an oral history project I undertook documenting the African American Studies Institute or AASI founded at Antioch during the late 60s. The history of the AASI spoke to me and the shared experience was unbelievable. Their story is a part of a larger story about the educational liberation of Black America. I knew this vital piece of Antioch history must be told. The footprints of these Antioch students and their victories for humanity have reached far beyond the Antioch community. It is my goal to continue to research and tell the empowering story of the AASI.
Being awarded the Winning Victories Grant was an unbelievable moment. I am very thankful for the belief and encouragement the alumni have shown me. It is an opportunity to move forward and have a profound impact in disenfranchised communities and facilitator of change in the education system. The grant will allow me to continue in what I believe is one of Antioch’s greatest traditions, challenging and changing the concept of normal. My self-designed degree was focused on developing a Hip-Hop educational curriculum. I knew that Hip-Hop could be an intuitively appealing, memorable, and cool way to break down hard subjects. As children, we learned the alphabet and numbers in easy-to-remember limericks and songs. This same rhythmic meter is found in Hip-Hop and can be used to improve students’ retention of knowledge. Thanks to the Winning Victories Grant, I will be able to continue building a digital curriculum and complete a few eight-week programs in directly in classrooms.
Overall, let us just say I got bit with the Antioch bug and fell in love. I am amazed at the things I was able to do at Antioch. Coming to Antioch was a long and winding road. Once I arrived, I was both amazed and concerned at what I found. I am thankful for the opportunity to add on to such a great legacy. I believe we must not rest on past greatness but stand tall enough in it to become greater. Like Santiago, whose dream was decoded in the most unpredictable way, I stand at the end of a long journey of self-discovery richer and wiser.
Antioch College although still small is mighty mighty mighty. Perhaps you might steer some others here, seasoned or not so seasoned. And once they get here they will be in great hands. Please stay in touch. If you have a lead to a great Co-op experience, let the College know. Please stay informed: contact a local Chapter leader and don’t forget the Annual Fund as these students who make us stay mighty need that Annual Fund help to sustain current and future victories. And that is the TRUTH for TRUTH and many others.
“A Buffalo Grazing” is a regular feature by alum Steven Duffy ’77, known to many as the Buffalo or simply Duffy.