"In Our Own Voices" is a photo and story gallery celebrating diversity and the voices that make the UNH Manchester community a wonderful place to live, learn and grow. Their stories are our story—and we are proud to tell it. Angelina Gillispie '20, '21G, a graduate of the English teaching program who is now pursuing a master's in secondary education, shares her story below.
"I will always embolden my students to unapologetically embrace and be proud of their kinks, curls, and ancestral histories."
I am a proud African American, Lebanese, Italian, French woman. As a young woman who has grown to embrace her mixed heritage, my curls are—and always will be—on full display. I have had opportunities to become empowered by the African and Arabic histories that are a part of my story during my classes and experiences at UNH Manchester, an institution that values and fosters cultural awareness. I have been able to connect with the stories of my multiple heritages and feel nothing but love and pride about the intricacies of my existence.
Being born into a predominantly white America as a multiracial young girl, I remember feeling that I never fully belonged to any of the rich worlds and cultures into which I was born. Although I could not quite make sense of it then, I was subject to many insensitive comments and questions, such as, “What are you?” and “Can I touch your hair?” Even as a young girl, feeling lost and otherized, I wanted nothing more than to suppress my natural cacophony of curls. For numerous years, I destroyed and seared my bountiful curls to try to conform, so I would no longer be gawked at as if I were lesser than anyone else. Now, as a proud multiracial young woman, I aspire to become an English or English language learner teacher in a diverse community such as Manchester, where many underrepresented youth are struggling to come to terms with their own identities. Regardless of where I end up, I will always embolden my students to unapologetically embrace and be proud of their kinks, curls, and ancestral histories.