According to the statistics and history in the United States of America I am a double minority. However, I won’t let what I was born as prevent me from doing whatever it is that I put my mind to. Whether it’s attempting to independently start my own news publication or attempting to add cultural diversity to one of the largest Historically Black Universities in the nation, I've always strived to surpass any limitations society has given me because of my background.
I am Vanity Duran. After five long, well spent years, I graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Broadcast Journalism from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University. I was born in Passaic, New Jersey and moved down to Tampa, Florida when I was 9 years old. I grew up in a traditional Dominican- household, in a predominately Hispanic area, where my surroundings were entirely too predictable, and routine for my taste.
It wasn’t until I was four hours and about 200 miles away from home that I became speechless from the culture shock that I experienced in this new city of Tallahassee. Being Dominican at FAMU, in the Fall of 2010, I felt like a lone wolf. I didn’t know where to fit in, or even know how to begin how to. I felt out of place, confused, and really homesick. It wasn’t until Spring 2012 (hey, greatness takes time) that I realized how important my presence was at FAMU or at an HBCU period. I realized that it wasn’t just my presence alone that exuded this importance but, the presence of students that identified as Latina/o as a whole!
According to an article written on The Atlantic, Latinos are a potentially bountiful market for all colleges, especially for HBCUs. Lekan Oguntoyinbo wrote that, "HBCUs generally have lower tuition and that appeals to Latinos, many of whom come from lower-income families.”
As two of the largest rising ethnic populations in the country, both Latinos and African Americans have more things in common than what is depicted in media and mainstream history.
Have you ever wondered why some Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Colombians, Panamanians, etc. look black? That’s because they are! Between 60 and 70 percent of slaves ended up in South America and the Caribbean. Only 6 percent arrived in what is now the United States. By 1860, approximately two thirds of all New World slaves remained in South America.
Imagine if this information was promoted more via mainstream media! How powerful would that be? A lot of people would be more inclined to connect through our overarching similarities as opposed to remaining divided because of our differences. However, because it is not, the change starts through education and what better way to do so than through higher education?
Currently, for the past month, I’ve been working on campus at the Office of Enrollment Management where I help our future with their future. In simpler terms, I assist in student enrollment. I also work independently for my own good news publication, Life5tylez; a platform that allows you to turn your negative situations into positive experiences. In the words of Fredreck Douglass, “There’s no progress without struggle.”
As an undergraduate for the past three years, I’ve worked with many organizations and even founded my own organization. On October 3, 2013, with the help of three other ladies, we founded UNIDOS (Uniting Nations to Inspire Diverse Opportunities in Society). I was influenced to start the organization after my former boss at the campus’ Office of Communications, opened my eyes to helping make the university more culturally diverse. I became so involved that I was inspired to work on campus after I graduated to continue spreading cultural diversity at the university. Two weeks before graduation I was hired at my dream job; a month after graduation I was rehired. I now work part-time at the university where I am implementing ways for current students to interact with other Latino and Latina students.
Along with enrollment management, I was motivated to resume Life5tylez after a long hiatus and have been committed to not just posting enlightening and motivational things, but living the Life5tyle as well. Life5tylez is about spreading awareness on the great, and true things occurring in our community, looking on the bright side of things, and most importantly growing. My theory is that, the more you’re surrounded with negativity, the more negative you become. It’s called mirror neurons which, “responds to actions that we observe in others.” Subsequently, I make it a point to focus and report on the good things going on in life about people that we can relate to, and also to promote and spread awareness that good things are going on in this world. The more good news we see the more people are bound to feel good about themselves, respect others, and live a peaceful life. Hint: world peace.
It sounds like a pageant answer, it sounds impossible, it sounds like what everyone else has said. However, it’s okay to pursue it!
Because I feel so great with my way of living, I decided to stop waiting on a miracle and start my own YouTube channel: Veality TV, where I share my true life experiences, and offer helpful tips of encouragement. I also started another platform called "Where CURLS (Creative Uplifting Resilient Ladies) Talk", where I gather women of all ages in the Tallahassee area for women empowerment events, networking, and into safe places to be openminded.
With all of my passions put together, my overall goal is to genuinely help people, and offer the same opportunities that were and are still offered to me. I strive to be selfless when helping other people work through there issues, and figure out ways to help realistically and effectively solve them.
I believe that I was born to make a message out of the messes and I am doing just that.