Mixed on Campus #8 – Leilani Wetterau

Name: Leilani Wetterau
Mix: Chinese, White-American
Major & Year: Elementary Education; Freshman

Q: How has being mixed affected your campus experience?

A: I have never felt like I have truly fit in on this campus, or in any space in general. My whole life has been jumping from group to group. I always try to smile and laugh, because it’s lighter that way, but deep down I crave belonging. I have a great church community, family, and friends, but my ethnic identity is something that affects me everyday. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t change being mixed for anything. I know I am unique and special, and I hope everyone knows that about themselves too! <3

Mixed on Campus #7 – Gabriela Barrett

Name: Gabriela Barrett
Mix: Peruvian & White-American (Jewish)
Major & Year: RC Creative Writing & Drama; Senior

I am a proud Latina Jew who is thankful for both sides of my heritage: the immigrants from Lima, Perú and the immigrants from Eastern Europe (Romania and Germany). I grew up in a household that was not only biracial and bilingual, but came from two families that practiced two different religions. My siblings and I were raised in a Reform Jewish Congregation like my father, but my mother was raised Catholic. We understood and practiced our faith while respecting my mother’s at the same time. The constant exposure to different cultures, religions, practices, traditions, and beliefs have helped create my identity.

Q: What do you wish more people knew about the mixed experience?

A: Being mixed is something no one really prepares you for. If you are mixed, it is usually because your parents come from two different races or ethnicities, meaning they also do not fully understand our experiences. The imposter syndrome is very much a real thing. While I have improved in dismissing this notion, it can be damaging when people do not believe you are who you say you are. It invalidates you. Not an action you might take or belief, your whole identity and being. Whether that be because of your skin color, the language you speak, the music you listen to, or the traditions that have been instilled in your life. I used to introduce myself as half- Peruvian. Well it is the truth. But, as I matured, I realized that my mother tried her best to still incorporate our Peruvian culture and heritage in the suburbs on the East Coast, far away from our Latino family on the West Coast. She did this with music, food, film, and of course, making sure we call up our family members and practicing our Spanish. I was lucky enough to also fly out there multiple times to celebrate holidays. I am a Latina. Yes, there is other blood flowing through my veins that is Ashkenazi Jew, but my experiences and history do not cancel one another. I now say I am Latina (not half). Growing up, I was a mixed Latina raised in a white-jewish community. I am privileged to have been accepted in both communities but there are silent judges who still always make you feel out of place. You sometimes just do not fit in, no matter how hard you try. “My skin is too white or my accent is too weak.” If the Spanish speakers in my family were not as forgiving with my shaky grammar, communicating would be even more difficult. But they love me, despite our different religions, despite our distance, and despite the color of my skin. We understand our bond and our strengthened by the two different sides of the stories we get to tell.

Q: What are you most anxious about right now?

A: People keep asking me what my plans are for post-graduation which I assume is the most obvious thing to ask to a graduating senior. I understand that. I even do that to my friends in a similar situation. But, as someone whose passion is in the arts and humanities, the future is not as easy to plan out. While a common answer, I am most anxious about my future. This safe bubble of education has cushioned me in my years of adolescence. But now, I do not get that security anymore. It is not just my career that I am unsure about. I’ve heard that the 20s is a time to explore, despite the stigma of knowing what you want to do straight out of college. I welcome the mystery of not knowing what I am going to do yet, but still fear the uncertainty. How will I support myself? Should I still pursue my dream or turn to something more safe? This leads to the other side of my anxiety, a side that is sometimes not talked about. The social environment of 20-somethings, post-college, is something that I am trying to mentally prepare for. Finding new friends, new hobbies, new love. They can be difficult to find, even more so in a new setting. You are met with this new life but without the training wheels that were given to you in the past. I am trying to tell myself I’ll be okay but also trying to be realistic. The people I know who have gone through all of this seem to have turned out okay, so maybe I will too?

Mixed on Campus #6 – Jasmin Lee

Name: Jasmin Lee
Mix: Black & Chinese-Malaysian
Major & Year: Creative Writing & American Culture; Senior

Q: How has being mixed affected your campus experience?

A: Being mixed is a unique experience for everyone, but my childhood in navigating different cultures has allowed me to find similarities with anyone I’m talking to. This has helped me make new friends throughout college and open myself to new opportunities.

Q: What do you wish more people knew about the mixed experience?

A: I wish people knew that it can be exhausting to fit into expectations of who you are supposed to be based on how you look. Being mixed is an experience that can be both exhausting and exciting at the same time, but I am learning to be okay with being myself around others and not who people think I should be.

Q: What are you most anxious about right now?

A: I am most anxious about graduating. Going out into the real world and adulting seems scary but I am just trying to take it one step at a time.

Q: What kind of person do you aspire to be?

A: I aspire to be a person who is unapologetic about who I am. I am still working on this but I am learning to accept how my identity impacts my view of the world, and being okay with it.

Mixed on Campus #5 – Maeve Lucas

Name: Maeve Lucas
Mix: Transnational Adoptee
Major & Year: BCN; Junior

Q: How has being mixed affected your campus experience?

A: It definitely took me some time to find my place on campus freshman year. There were certain groups I didn’t fit into as well because I was mixed and didn’t fully identify as one ethnicity. Mixed@Michigan has really given me a community that has allowed me to grow into myself.

Q: What do you wish more people knew about the mixed experience?

A: Almost every mixed person has gone through some type of scrutiny. While everyone’s experience is unique, mixed people often face what most minorities experience. Though we can also be scrutinized by our own cultural group. It’s a very “in-between” feeling.

Q: What kind of person do you aspire to be / who is the most influential person in your life?

A: My mom. Sometimes people feel like transnational adoptees feel like they were “saved” by their adoptive parents, and I think that terminology is flawed. While my mom is my best friend and biggest supporter, she is not my savior. My mom is my mom like your mom is your mom. I aspire to be a mom like her. If I could even be half as great as a mom she is, I would be happy with that.

Mixed on Campus #4 – Andre Nandi

Name: Andre Nandi
Mix: Bulgarian & Bengali
Major & Year: Computer Science; Sophomore

Q: How has being mixed affected your campus experience?

A: It has put me in a unique position to look at situations from two very different perspectives. While it’s hard to find people exactly like me, I’m able to find some commonalities with a large spectrum of identities

Q: What do you wish more people knew about the mixed experience?

A: Being mixed means you are in a very interesting middle ground between identities. Every mixed person has a very special relationship with the cultures that make them who they are. While some embrace one and look like the other, others may embrace both and look like outsiders in both. Everyone navigates these complexities and finds a home in very different but beautiful ways.

Q: Who is the most influential person in your life?

A: My parents are the most influential people in my life. Whether it’s coming from poverty to living through the end of communism in their country, they took massive risks to come to the US and make a life for themselves. They constantly teach me very vastly different perspectives, and while I don’t always agree with them, these two sides make me who I am.

Mixed on Campus #3 – Alanna Grace-Marie

Name: Alanna Grace-Marie
Mix: Black, biracial (German & Nigerian)
Major & Year: Sociology – Afro-American Studies; Junior Transfer Student

I am a visual sociologist and multimedia artist. I use my art to tell my unique story as well as share Black history and culture to uplift my community with positive representation. My business instagram is @equitable.arts

Q: How has being mixed affected your campus experience?

A: Being a Black presenting biracial woman at a predominantly white institution, representation is hard to find. So I create my own! And I collaborate with others who have intersectional identities to share their stories too.

Q: What do you wish more people knew about the mixed experience?

A: The mixed experience is unique for every individual and it can be complicated in unique ways too! This isn’t always a negative experience, we can use our unique perspectives to brighten this world. So please, refrain from placing us in stereotypical boxes.

+1: I will write an autobiography one day soon to show the world how being both Black and biracial has informed me and shaped my experiences in this world. I was raised to act a certain way and certainly, society put more pressure on me to conform. But now, I reject this! I am all of my ethnicities and identities, uniquely me! No need to pick a side.

+2: Blair Imani is an educational inspiration of mine. She also rejects stereotypes of her identities and lives an authentic life to uplift all marginalized individuals.