#IndySchoolGirlsofColor guest blog – Misconceptions, by Alexandra Day

We are so enthusiastic about this Saturday’s #indyschoolgirlsofcolor event at the Chapin School! 
Girls of Color & The Women They Become: Looking at success through an independent school lens will open its arms to current girls of color grades 6-12 and those considering an independent school education. We have something for their caregivers too.
RIISE & Chapin will support young women with a fantastic panel of alum (plus, a mom of alum) who’ve experienced an independent school education. We will then have intimate and safe opportunities to recognize and reflect on the journey as girls of color while mentoring successful ways to manage the road academically, socially and emotionally – in and out of independent school communities, and beyond.

We are pleased to have one of our panelists, Alexandra Day guest blog about…

alexandra day alum_opt
by Alexandra Day

At the age of twelve, I entered my independent school. I was very fortunate to have an opportunity to enter a school with a large community of people that looked like me. This awareness helped me to maintain a confidence whilst being surrounded by people that appeared very different from me.

I grew up in the Bronx. To this day, it’s a central part of who I am. Before my entrance into independent school, I went to school in El Barrio. My public school was mostly black and Latino. I could count the number of white students on one hand. However, it was something I hadn’t noticed until I was surrounded by people that looked different than myself.

When I was accepted into private school, it never occurred to me that I had accomplished something special. Having been a student in a gifted and talented public school, I was accustomed to taking tests and doing well. I also experienced a preparatory program which exposed me to new material that was interesting and more challenging than my public school curriculum. Nevertheless, I had not been intimidated. Being accepted into a prestigious independent school seemed to me to be the only possible result.

There were many challenges that arose from living in this new world though. I found myself growing distant from the community that was my own. I often had more homework than my friends, so I wasn’t available most weekends. Also, our breaks from school were different. Most of the friendships that I maintained from my community had made a similar transition to an independent school, and we were able to bond over being novel in our new environments. Not always appreciative of the attention, we would gather and gripe about the new ridiculous questions & misconceptions about our hair, or living in the “hood”.

While we were not a majority, the comfort I received from not being the lone woman of color allowed me to be passionate about my race and ethnicity, things that did not seem as important to my white classmates. The school was predominantly white & upper class, and I thought they all took yellow cabs from 86th & Park. This proved to be a misconception. When I realized that not everyone was from Park Avenue, I recognized that I needed to be more tolerant of others preconceived notions of me.

I’m glad to have had the fortune of an independent school education and experience. It has given me the confidence to embrace any situation, no matter how different I may feel. Park Ave or El Barrio, we all question ourselves at times.

Meet Alexandra this Saturday 4/12, 10a-1:30p, …but, you must register

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  1. Gina Parker Collins
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Alex, thank you for mentoring through your story, and I can’t wait to have you as part of our event this Saturday!

  2. Alexandra
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    It is an honor… It’s amazing to think how many life lessons were in the experience.

  3. Damaris Williams
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Alex is not only a beautiful woman of color, but she’s an innovative forward thinker, a sister, a friend, a wife and a great person with two dependable shoulders to lean on. Blessings to you and all, Damaris Williams

  4. Posted April 9, 2014 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    YES Alex. your voice is essential in this conversation and it is bringing healing to so many. Thank you!

  5. Alexandra
    Posted April 10, 2014 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Thank you Shirley and Damaris! I hope that we’ll be able to heal some hearts and provide some strength to our future leaders!

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