Viewpoint: Students should embrace background

Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist
Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist

By Rachel Stobaugh

After many sleepless nights on the sixth floor of Collins Residence Hall, I, a freshman at Baylor, had come to the conclusion that I would never miss the farm as much as I did at that moment.

The problem resided in the fact that I could not pinpoint what it was I missed the most. Was it the bawling of the cows by my bedroom window, which I had never lived without? Or maybe the rattle of the cattle guard that I heard each morning when my father loaded up the John Deere tractor to put out the hay for the day?

Either way, I knew what my future in the dorm would be composed of: Baylor students blaring their radios and laying on their horns at 3 a.m. on Eighth Street, giving me a slight case of insomnia.

Gazing out my bedroom window, I could see the top of the Mary Gibbs Jones Family and Consumer Sciences building, I-35, the Whataburger sign and a faint view of the ALICO building downtown. Although it was one of the better views from the dormitory windows, it did not hold a candle to the cows grazing early in the mornings, and green grass that went for miles and miles back home.

To a small-town, 1A high school graduate with more experience in agriculture and feeding baby calves on a dairy than uptown business, moving to the big city of Waco was a culture shock, and Baylor was even worse.

The girls carry Louis Vuitton handbags and strut around in their Marc Jacobs heels, but where do my Anderson Bean boots fit in? And let’s be honest, I had never even heard of Sperrys until I stepped foot on Baylor’s campus. Not only did I apparently need the fashion police, I also needed help with my accent.

I recall move-in day of 2008, stepping on the elevator with about eight other girls. Biceps stinging from the weight of our bags, conversation was key to making the slow ride all the way to the top.

As I began talking to the girl next to me, one near the front of the elevator whipped her bleach blonde hair around, let me finish my sentence, and then said, “Where are you from?” My response was simply, “Texas… North Texas, to be exact.” She chuckled. “I can tell,” she said as she stepped off onto the fourth floor.

Puzzled, I stumbled onto the sixth floor carrying my weight in clothing and shoes. It was then I explained the incident to my roommate, Leslie, who informed me of my accent.

“Accent?” I said. “I don’t have an accent.” Leslie replied, “Rachel, you have a twang like I have never heard before… It’s fine, girl. We’ll work on it.”

We never got around to working on it, because I refused. I liked the way I talked, and it wasn’t going to change just because I became surrounded by preppy people.

After much deliberation, I realized that I was not alone. Taylor Bettis, currently a junior from Austin, helped immensely in my adaptation to Baylor.

When having a conversation with her in the hall of Collins one day, she mentioned she had not always been from Austin.

She was raised in a tiny town in Illinois, and because of family reasons, she had recently moved to Austin. Although it had only been a year since her move to Texas, she had adjusted quite well.

She was accustomed to the small-town, Walmart-20-minutes-away kind of lifestyle, but knew that sooner or later she would have to jump out there in the big city and see what it was like. We had that much in common and began to build a friendship on that. My point is this: Take your background and embrace it. The past is the framework for what you become.

If you were born with a thick accent, don’t try to camouflage it. If you were raised not eating meat, don’t change because your roommate does. If your parents raised you to not partake in drinking, don’t feel obligated. Maintain your standards, maintain your composure and you will maintain the respect that people will learn to have for you.

Rachel Stobaugh is a junior nursing major from Gainesville and a reporter for The Lariat.