Dr. Lynn Hampton addresses students at the STARS event regarding overcoming adversity.

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An effort to challenge stereotypes Wednesday night helped bolster some first-year community scholars who are establishing their identities at TCU.

The students attended the kickoff event for Sisters Transcending and Reaching Success (STARS). STARS is bringing the #iamiamnot social media movement to TCU. STARS president Jasmine Tucker said the campaign aligned with the organization’s goal of transcending others as well as themselves.

The campaign gives students a chance to break free from stereotypes that have been placed on them by writing “I AM/I AM NOT” statements on a whiteboard and posting them on social media.

One example came from community scholar Nia Brookins, a junior theater and writing double major, who wrote, “I am a TCU student from an inner city…I am not a sob story.”

Senior psychology major and community scholar Briyet Sigala first heard about the campaign from a leadership conference she attended. She said the campaign was something she wanted to bring to TCU.

“Your first impression that you have of a person is going to stick with you forever,” Sigala said. “I just kind of wanted to break down the stereotypes and why we use them, how they help us, and how they can also hurt us.”

Makenzie Stallo
Briyet Sigala spoke to students about bringing the I AM/I AM NOT campaign to campus.

For the community scholars in attendance, the idea of transcending societal norms and expectations was appealing.

Obed Sanchez, a first-year community scholar majoring in music education, said, “Being a minority on campus, sometimes I don’t really feel like I connect well with the majority.”

Sanchez said attending the STARS event changed his perspective.

“This opened my eyes and made me realize I should start taking initiative,” Sanchez said. “If I want to be a part of this campus, I need to be the one to go out and speak to others.”

The Community Scholars Program consists of exceptional students from urban high schools with high minority populations in Fort Worth, Arlington and Dallas. The program offers more than $3 million in scholarships each year. The STARS event is one of many the scholars could attend this semester as a program requirement.

Students anonymously wrote their I AM/I AM NOT statements and they were later posted on TCU STARS Instagram account
Students anonymously wrote their I AM/I AM NOT statements, which were later posted on the TCU STARS Instagram account.

Sociology lecturer Dr. Lynn Hampton spoke Wednesday night about the importance of recognizing diversity and using it as an advantage at TCU and in the career field.

“You’re going to be communicating with diverse people in a diverse society,” Hampton said. “The more comfort and familiarity you have in engaging across those diverse lines, the better prepared you’re going to be.”

Although the majority of students in attendance were of a minority, Hampton said anyone can benefit from the message of breaking barriers and creating diversity.

“Even if I’m speaking to an already informed and enlightened group of students as it relates to inclusivity and diversity, I’m still wanting to foster that spirit of leadership across the campus,” Hampton said.

Sigala said STARS intends to keep the “I AM/I AM NOT” campaign running throughout the semester, hoping more students will respond and embrace their differences while supporting one another.

Students not only used the #iamiamnot, but also #weareTCU to remind students that despite their differences, they are a part of something bigger at TCU, Sigala said.

“At the end of the day, regardless of what you are, you’re always going to be a Frog,” Sigala said.