Interview by Matt Walker ‘04.
MW: “Thank you for meeting with me. If you could say your name, where you’re from, which class year you are in, and yeah, start with that.”
AH: “Hi, my name is Angel Harris. I am a second-year. I’m the class of 2024. And I am from Atlanta, Georgia.”
MW: “And why did you choose to attend Antioch?”
AH: “This has been a very hard question for me because I got accepted to 66 schools and I got $2.4 billion in scholarships. And somehow out of every single school I chose Antioch. I don’t know if it was fate, or destiny or whatever you want to call it. One of the reasons I chose Antioch was because it was this small school. I feel like I can do a lot, I can change something or make myself well known in the area, in the community, instead of going to a huge school of thousands of students. When I got here, I was like “What is this?”. Because, of course I’m from smack dab in the middle of the city, where the city is full of culture and, let’s face it, Black people. Then I get here in Ohio and it’s cold. I’m used to 105 degree weather, and I find that the college is in the middle of cornfields, quite literally. And my parents were like, “Are you sure you’re at the right place?” And I was like “I think so” hahaha. But that’s a question I get asked a lot. I just saw an opportunity to go away from home, travel… Now I have a car so I get to travel in-between states and see places as I go back and forth or home. I just chose you guys because it felt right in the end, ultimately. Do I regret my decision? No. But I would change some things, I believe, most definitely.”
MW: “Let’s talk about that. What would you like to change? What are the top two or three things that come to mind when you say that?”
AH: “I think, and this is just my personal opinion, I think Antioch is better for transfer students that transfer in from another college or older transfer students. And I say that because I came here straight out of high school, and I was not prepared. I come from a privatized city, in Atlanta. And I came here. I never lived with anybody a day in my life. Especially because of COVID. And I was the COVID class. So I didn’t get to do the tours and stuff like that. I would say, if we had virtual tours, because I know we have virtual meet-and-greet and whatnot… But I just feel like after you get accepted that you could do all that stuff. I wish we had a little bit of that before.”
“Also, a clear line on the website of the statistical standards of the population here because I had to personally email staff at Antioch, because, of course, I was thorough with my college search. I had to email Antioch and be like “Can you send me a statistical population for here?” They were like “Here’s a copy from back in 2016. This is really old. But I hope it’s still the same.” It wasn’t when I got here. But I think I would change the recruiting process, basically the way we get students. And have like a virtual setting and an in person setting. Maybe have “a getting to know Antioch” workshop.”
MW: “For prospective students?”
MW: “That’s great feedback.”
AH: “I don’t know if they still do it here. They probably don’t because of COVID, which is understandable, but I feel like if there are students that want to spend the night on campus and want to get the feel of campus or whatnot, or just be on campus for a day and probably go to a class or whatever the case may be. I think that would be nice too, just so people could get the feel. Because I worked with the Dean of Students this year and last year, not Bill, I worked with Louise Smith ‘77 during her time here. And then I’ve been working for ResLife for about a year now. So I’ve been cross-training on both jobs. After all of my time here, I’ve learned that a lot of freshmen were just like, “I wish we would have got to spend the night.” Getting feedback from all these freshmen, I was like that’s kind of how I felt when I got here. You know? If they were like “Spend the night, eat the food…” But that would be my second recommendation.”
“And then the last thing is, I feel like we should do a program where, and I’ve talked to a lot of students about this, but we should do a program where we can have meal cards. And, since we have a good connection with the town, it can be if we don’t like the food at Birch. Since so many students complain, we can go in town and swipe our cards and get a meal at the restaurants in town. Or it’s a certain amount of credits you can use at Tom’s to buy stuff with. Or however that can work out because I think that would be a great system that will take care of the food problem. If you don’t want to eat here you can eat in town.”
“But these are just ideas that I’ve had on my mind. I don’t know if they’re possible. But those are the only things I would tell you about Antioch. Other than that, everything else is wonderful for me.”
MW: “Those are excellent recommendations. I’m so glad that we’re going print them in the newsletter so people can see and be like “Look at this – this student had this great idea.” So, I’m super excited to put that in the interview. That’s great. very tangible, you know what I mean?”
“I’m so curious, what you were into in high school when all of this aid and all of these colleges were climbing all over each other to get you to come there. What kind of student were you? What types of activities was it that really gave you that edge? What are you all about?”
AH: “I come from a standard Black family, not standard, but my dad’s a mechanic and my mom’s a medical assistant. She used to work at a hotel and then she got her medical assistant license at a community college, a technical college. My dad did the same with his mechanic stuff. They never went to college so in their mind, everything that I was doing was like “Why are you doing this?” So, nine times out of ten I had to fundraise money for everything that I wanted to do. And there’s certain stuff that they’re like, “Okay, we’ll give you the money for that, we see the reason.” And other stuff they were just like “No”.”
“Freshman year, I started off as a Fine Arts major. So, I majored in Dance and Chorus and Artistical Studies, which was like drawing and whatnot. And so I took seven classes per day at a majority white school for my freshman year. It was pretty nice. I got heavily bullied which led to me being transferred to a predominantly Black but wealthy, upper class Black high school, where I changed my course of study to Science. To get into the school you had to test really high in the application tests, which were out-of-this-world hard. But I studied and I got in and I got a full scholarship to go there for free.”
MW: “This is all for high school?”
MW: “Wow. Okay.”
AH: “We have charter schools in Atlanta. So some require you to have a talent or they require you to be recruited for a sport or to test in. For me, it was testing in for this school. And then I did debate, which I ended up being a state champion in. And I did poetry slam, which I ended up being a state champion in. And I did basketball which my school ended up being national champions in. I did beta club. I did softball. I was so close to getting my EMT license at school, but I finally did get my EMT license my senior year as a 17-year-old. I just couldn’t be on the back of the truck. You have to be 18 or older. But I did get to ride on some calls because I finished at the community college. That school ended up being great. I started my very own blood drive. I got the Red Cross to come to our school. It was amazing. I did so many accomplishments. It was crazy.”
MW: “Sounds like it – thank you for your service! Thank you for your service. I just have to say “WOW!”.
AH: “I transferred again. I ended up at the high school I graduated from and at that school was a president Mu Alpha Beta which is a math honor society. And I did a 20-hour math challenge. So I sat in a room with a computer and a projector. And me and my brother who was about to graduate and three of our friends sat in a room and solved a 20-hour math problem. It was kinda crazy.”
MW: “That’s awesome.”
AH: “I did softball again. I got inducted into the high school hall of fame for sports for softball. So it was really nice and if you go to my high school you see my picture up on the wall. It was really nice. At that high school I did a mix between Science and Fine Arts. So, the only fine art I did was chorus and then I did a few dance classes, which I got countless amounts of solos for that. For me, a lot of the stuff I did was just to prove people wrong. I’m a big girl, so a lot of people will say like, “Oh, you can’t dance because you’re big.” or “You can’t be a professional dancer because you’re big.” And a lot of people are like, “Well, you can’t sing particularly well, because a lot of big women or Black women can’t sing. and I’m like, “Oh, okay.” I went on to my state championships in chorus. I did a solo at the homecoming. It was the 30th of homecoming. And all the alumni came back. And I got a solo to Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time”. And it was really big and it was really well because I had to make my own costume because my high school would not provide a costume for me because I was a bigger woman. I went on stage and I just I danced my heart out, I danced my heart out. And a lot of people were clapping and screaming. It feels good once you’ve done an accomplishment. I was in national honor society at that school. I was in a lot.”
MW: “Okay, let’s pause right there. I mean, it seems like we could go on for hours talking about your high school achievements – amazing!
AH: “My major is actually Neurosurgery and Biomedical Engineering. I want to double major in those.”
MW: “Amazing. Yes, that’s the next question. You know, you just said your major. I’m just curious what your interests within your major are and what Co-Ops you’ve done?”
AH: “I have done no Co-Ops pertaining to my major. But I have done co-ops that I believe changed my view on the world. The Co-Op that I did for the last two years, is Home Inc. in town. And Miss Emily, she’s an amazing director. And the staff is great there. We’re nonprofit and we build homes and fundraise for housing, in the area, in our community, and out, for people who don’t specifically qualify for anything else because Yellow Springs is very expensive to live in. We just built Glen Colleges on Xenia Street. I was there for that whole project and I called countless amounts of people in town. And I really got to know the people in town and see how caring some people are and seeing the impact that you have on people who think they don’t have a chance anymore. And it’s really nice. My Co-Op at Home Inc. showed me that I can do the smallest thing by giving somebody a call and it will make them day. That smallest thing of hope will turn into a fire. I remember giving this lady a call and telling her she didn’t make the application process. And she wasn’t mad. She was like “I actually just got my section eight” because I helped her call the state and helped her find the website and do all the paperwork. It really changed my view on the littlest things. I didn’t see that they mattered. I love doing the littlest things for people. But when you actually get to see how big of an impact they are, and it comes full circle, that’s what mattered for me. So I love Home Inc. I still work there just for a job during my study term. I don’t think I’ll do another Co-Op there only because I want to do something more inclined to my major. I did work at Friends Care, as just a side job, upon my millions of jobs here. But I worked at Friends Care. I helped do countless amounts of laundry and watch all the residents there. So, it wasn’t a Co-Op, but it pertains to my major. So it was really nice. It was really nice. I got to hear stories of how Yellow Springs used to be and everything but…”
MW: “Cool. What about your major – what within that major interests you? What are some of the specific things that you’re drawn to be in that major for?”
AH: “Well, I picked the major sophomore year in high school. Everybody told me I was crazy. And I’ve never changed my major, not and once. And it’s because I want to do neurosurgery. I want to be a neurosurgeon.
AH: “And I want to make prosthetics also, or do prosthetical research for limbs on the body, through lab work. And Biomedical Engineering also includes gene engineering, finding cures for stuff. So I think I want to do that kind of work in the field. But I definitely want to become a neurosurgeon because a lot of people in my family have dementia and brain damage. My mom just got brain damage a couple of months ago from an 18-wheeler accident.
MW: “Oh no, I’m so sorry.”
AH: That just motivates me more. The field that I’m going in needs people, specifically people of color and women. It’s gonna take me a long time, like 10 years to be exact. But I’m just waiting for it. I believe that I’ll get there when I get there. You know, a couple of setbacks aren’t the end of the world.
MW: “I believe in you. I think you’re going to do great things.”
AH: “And if not, if that doesn’t work out, Medical Litigation. What can I say?”
MW: “Oh yeah, there you go. Either way, I think either field will be benefited by your participation. That’s amazing. That’s amazing. I mean, I want to keep asking so many questions. I feel like I should sort of start to get into wrap-up mode. I’m just wondering if there are any other topics you would you like to discuss or any comments you have on anything going on around here or just anything you’d like to speak on in general that you’d like me to publish?”
AH: “I think that there’s a lot of people, alumni and community members, they don’t see students often and they don’t communicate specifically with students often that live on campus. But we struggled a lot; with getting things we want done, really getting things through. We struggle a lot. I’m not saying that the campus is bad or anything, but there are a lot of nicks and knacks that can be tweaked and fixed to fix the community life. How students socialize here, how we interact together. I’m the President of Dance Club. But because I am the president of dance I don’t get a lot of people to come. I’ll get my closest friends. And I feel like that’s because our communities kinda divided. I would say it is divided racially and socially, on a social, class level. I love Antioch because it allows people to be who they want to be. And we have a huge LGBTQIA+ community. But in terms of just standing together on things, I think there’s a huge disconnect, probably because of our backgrounds and where we come from. I feel like it’s a cultural shock to many people. They’ve never lived with a black person before. We’ve never lived with a white person before. And I think there needs to be a class on how to live, how to communicate. Because a lot of students come here already preset and not open to feedback or conversation and not with open mindsets. And I think there’s no activities for community engagement, positive community engagement. Because what we see a lot at Community Meeting and on CommCil, and stuff like that… Sometimes people are kind of attacked and misunderstood in front of a group of people. And instead of that being a good thing. It’s a bad thing. Because now those same group of people who probably have never met this person now have a bad outlook on this person. I think we just have to learn ways to bond as a community. And all the alumni stories that I heard, the Antioch community was jumpin’ back in the day. And I just wanted to get that feeling back. I feel that there’s a major disconnect between the students. And not even just between students, between the students and staff members. So I think that’s something I would add.
MW: “That’s great.”
AH: “I’m sorry. It’s just on my mind and I want it to be…”
MW: Yeah, that’s exactly what I asked for. It’s great. You have such clear, debater, policy-style plans to improve it. I feel like we are getting somewhere by this discussion.”
AH: “I know there’s tons of new management and leadership and everything, on campus. And we’re figuring out because Antioch doesn’t have a structure, they’ve just been Antioching their way through everything. But I feel like once you get in good policies and once the students learn how to communicate with their leadership, it will be wonderful. Once we get those policies in, once we have a structure, everything kind of has a tunnel to build down through. And right now there is no tunnel. We’re just all sliding our way down the slope. Which is fun sometimes because amazing things come out of chaos. But also, I feel like right now we have organized chaos. That’s the only way that I can describe it but we’ve had countless good things come out of it.”
MW: “What’s your what’s your favorite thing about Antioch?”
AH: “My favorite thing about Antioch is… that’s a hard one. I would say that my favorite thing about Antioch is the comfortability feel. Coming from POC that says a lot. Because sometimes the town can be vicious, especially when Trump was getting elected and we had the KKK riding through town. It was wild. I think Antioch makes you feel comfortable. You’re in this little bubble. A lot of stuff you do at Antioch, I don’t think we would get away with in the real world as students and as people of professionalism. I don’t think we would get away with it in the real world. I love how it’s kind of like a family feel here. It’s a dysfunctional family, but a family nonetheless. That’s my favorite thing. You get tired of being here, away from your family, especially me because I’m eight hours away from mine. And then I go home and I miss my room, having my own room, being able to have my bed and stuff of that nature, and just hanging out with my friends until four o’clock in the morning or I don’t have a parent calling me to come back home or whatnot. But those are the very special moments to get. And I think that Antioch truly helps people, in a way, find themselves. But also, they help people figure out where they want to go in life. They give people the chance to experiment and try and mess up and pick themselves back up and start something new. So that’s my favorite thing about Antioch.”
Watch Angel’s interview on FOX 5 Atlanta here.