Arrupe Leader tells untold stories

“I, too, am Xavier” social media campaign highlights students’ experiences

By Erin Albright, Staff Writer
Senior Karmen Sharp is one of many students who shared her voice via the “I, too, am Xavier” Instagram account started by Isabella Serna.
Photo courtesy of @ITooAmXavier via Instagram

Students of color within the Xavier community have been given a space to feel heard through the “I, too, am Xavier” social media campaign.

Isabella Serna, a senior economics and Philosophy, Politics and the Public double major, started the campaign as her Arrupe Leaders legacy project, which began at the start of the school year. 

Serna came up with the idea at the end of the fall semester, working over winter break to execute the finished product by the spring term. The social media effort consisted of both video and photo testimonies for students of color, which are being posted on Instagram @ITooAmXavier.

Arrupe Leaders Program Director Elizabeth Rumball  and Assistant Director of Leadership and Activities Deb Ayoade served as mentors for Serna throughout the project. 

Several Digital Innovation in Film and Television  students assisted in filming and editing participants’ stories, including Cam Bogans, Annabel Gremore, Andie Parody, TJ McDonough and Alex Peters.

“As a student leader, I was finding myself in spaces where students of color were expressing to administration their difficulties and struggles on campus,” Serna said.

“There are so many stories, many that go unheard. I wanted to provide a space for people to be open and honest about their experiences on our campus,” she added.

Inspiration for the project came from Xavier’s motto, “All for One and One for All.”

Serna noticed that Xavier’s mantra has not held true for all, as many students of color do not feel like they are a part of the school’s community.

Serna hoped the space would bring more awareness and empathy to the campus community, giving students the Xavier experience she felt she received. 

“It can be hard to be a minority on this campus, a student of color, an ‘other.’ Moreover, I think too often the general student body does not recognize that hardship, those experiences,” Serna explained.

The project accomplished its goal of sharing those stories, with some of the posts receiving more than 2,000 views. 

“It was definitely rewarding to know people are watching these stories to hear what their peers have to say,” she added.

The name of her project, refers to the Langston Hughes poem, “I, too,” a piece well-known for addressing racism and the division between people of color and White people in the United States.

The participants included current students, faculty and recent alumni. Each participant was given the option to show their face and read their own story. Stories were told both in interview style and testimonial format. 

Karmen Sharp, a senior health services administration major, was one of the 21 participants to date. 

“I honestly was extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to give my own truth… since no one really knows what it’s like walking in other people’s shoes,” Sharp commented.

“It is actually pretty crazy the amount of people that have come up to me on campus or direct messaged me on Instagram about (the project). I hope the Xavier community really takes a second and reflects on what the students have to say as we are the institution,” Sharp said.

“This project is for all of us. I encourage you to listen, to reflect and to lean in to the discomfort that is race,” Serna added.