The Importance of Identity

Destiny Harris, a senior rehabilitation science major from Little Rock, Arkansas, defines identity to be “qualities that make a person who they are no matter what it is.” She is a lover, an Aries, an enneagram type 8 and a powerhouse of a young woman.

         Some things that she loves and are most important to her about her own identity are “being a black female, being outspoken, always being a helping hand to anyone, having a strong but sensitive personality, always standing up for what I want no matter what and being outgoing and never scared to try new things.”

         Though her identity may be something that she has grown to solidify over her lifetime, she didn’t always possess such a strong sense of self. Along with her previously mentioned identities, she also identifies as a first-generation college student, the oldest child and a child raised in a single-parent household.

         Being a first-gen “has impacted me by being able to show people even though my mom didn’t go to college it never stopped her from working hard for what she wanted, and it never stopped her from becoming a nurse and getting her associates. It definitely didn’t stop me from working so hard to further my education. My education has always been one of the most important things to me. I’ve always worked hard no matter how hard it got or how tired I was. I’ve wanted to give up so many times, but I knew I must keep going,” said Destiny.

         “Being the oldest child impacted me because I knew my little sister looked up to me. When becoming a big sister, I knew I had to always show my little sister that no matter what she could do anything she set her mind to. Just being that role model for my sister has always been the greatest gift,” she continued.

         Finally, she said “being raised by a single mother made me work a little hard in life for things. It made me look at life differently. Yes, my mother would drop everything for me, but I knew she had my little sister as well. This helped me become independent and not be scared to fall and bump my head sometimes. This helped me realize that just because I was raised in a single-parent home doesn’t mean I can’t have whatever I want in life. It helped me realize what I want in life and how I want my life to turn out.”

         Despite being an incredibly independent person, Destiny didn’t become who she was all on her own. She said that there have been four things that have stuck with her during her time at ATU which have contributed to her successes, “Being told no is never the end and it only makes room for new opportunities. Always stay true to yourself no matter what. Don’t stress over things you can’t control because your mental health matters first. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak.”

         Another exceptional set of words she lives by are “if it costs you your peace, it’s too expensive.”

         “Protecting my peace at all times is so important. I can’t let negative vibes bring me down. I can’t let negative people into my life and ruin opportunities for me. My peace is one thing I don’t let anyone interrupt,” she said.

         Her minor in disability studies is fitting given that after graduating she will go “onto a graduate program for occupational therapy. I want to work with children with disabilities because they deserve someone to help them recover with all the creativity in the world. The passion I have to work with children with disabilities is so big it’s hard to explain. It is about seeing the ability and not the disability!”

         If there is anything that she could advise others based on what she learned, it would be to “stay true to yourself no matter what because not everyone is going to support your decisions and that’s okay. Never give up on what you believe in and always be willing to try new things. Always protect your peace!”

         “I’m forever grateful for all the opportunities and losses I’ve received at Arkansas Tech. This university has built me up and prepared me for my future. When choosing to come to Arkansas Tech University, the most important thing for me was it had to feel like a home away from home. It did just that. My time here at Tech, I’ve learned so much about myself that I never knew. I learned who I was, who I wanted to become, and who I will be,” Destiny said.