Daniel Clayton, 22, Senior at the University of Florida
“For me, it’s about knowing that I never have to explain myself to anyone. I occupy a somewhat strange space as a queer black man, especially one in a STEM major. It’s hard to find that delicate balance between standing up for yourself and making sure that you simultaneously progress personally and professionally. At the end of the day, it’s about asking yourself what you truly want, because very typically in college—especially as someone who is underrepresented—we’re taught that we should choose paths that are going to fund us, but not necessarily fulfill us. For a long time, I believed that. However, as I discovered myself culturally, sexually, and in so many other spheres I’ve come to know the importance of purpose in life.
We have to become better as a society for our own good. I make sure that I’m speaking up for what’s right and encouraging others to do the same. College is about growing and challenging yourself, and I think too many people are afraid to do that. When I do take the time to have critical conversations with people, especially black men, my goal is to make sure that people base their actions on things that they’ve learned themselves, not what society has taught them. It’s really all about growth.”
Want to learn more about the What’s Your Why? project? Click here.