WGRC Hosts After Hours Program and Discusses Dating at a PWI

Students meeting at the WGRC for After Hours program. REBECCA KRANICH/THE QUADRANGLE

By Rebecca Kranich, Social Media Editor

On Thursday afternoon, Zoe DeFazio, Ciara Dalton and Gabriela Sandoval hosted After Hours: Dating at a PWI as a person of color. This session concerned romance at a predominately white institution, or PWI. The After Hours program is an expansion of the Love in the Dark Series, where female-identifying students gather to discuss issues such as love, sexual health and more. 

This week, the Women and Gender Resource Center (WGRC )was filled with students of all ages, majors, races and sexual orientations/identities. The topics were also diverse, everything from sex lives to past relationships was open for discussion. However, many students shared similar experiences of imposter syndrome, self-confidence and challenges within interracial relationships.

Sophomore Nayelis Minaya shares how attending a PWI has led to feelings of imposter syndrome.

“I went to a predominantly Hispanic high school and middle school,” said Minaya. “So, my whole education has always been with other Hispanics. So coming to college, I remember the first day I walked in, and all I saw were white people. I felt imposter syndrome where I was like, ‘How am I going to manage being here?’ Because I felt as though my past educational background was less than that of white people because of society’s standards.”

One factor that has helped sophomore Sofimar Encarnacion during her time at a PWI has been the Multicultural Center (MCC).

“The MCC helped me find my own community, and I felt less alone,” said Encarnacion.

Sophomore Maddie Fitzgerald echoed similar sentiments and mentioned that the center brought her and her boyfriend together.

“It’s the best place to meet people of different cultures,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s where I met my boyfriend and all my close friends.”

Another topic of the program was interracial relationships. Fitzgerald discussed the importance of acceptance as well as the learning experiences that come with mixing cultures. 

“I’m dating a Dominican man, and I think it’s very important to embrace absolutely everything about the person that you’re dating, which includes their entire culture,” Fitzgerald said. “My boyfriend has shown me what traditional Dominican food is like and what Dominican parties are like. His mother has accepted me, but that was scary in the beginning.”

Similarly, Sandoval is in an interracial relationship and shares some of the difficulties of dating outside her race.

“It was definitely a culture shift. But he is very conscious of my culture, and he respects it,” Sandoval said. “He’s also Bulgarian, and I’ve never met someone like him. It’s been hard to tell my family, specifically the older generations like my grandmother and great-grandmother, that I’m in a relationship with a white man because Dominican culture is very strict on staying within their culture.”

Lastly, Sandoval shared how she has used her identity as a Dominican woman at a PWI to educate others and hasn’t let the negative stereotypes get to her.

“I have been able to teach, and I’ve been made aware of certain situations,” Sandoval said. “Since I came from a high school where I was considered a black woman, I have always been the odd one out. But I think I’ve kind of molded it into my identity, and I’m not gonna take it negatively. I’m honestly gonna embrace it and embrace my culture. I’m not gonna let being at a PWI ruin my experience or identity.”

Similarly, Encarnacion emphasizes how she strives to always be herself regardless of the spaces she enters.

“I grew up in the South Bronx, mainly a black and Hispanic community,” Encarnacion said. “Then I moved to Florida at 15, and I went to a primarily white high school. So when I came here, I went in with the assumption that I was going to have to be true to my lived experiences within a white space. I’m very aware of myself. I’m not going to cater to anyone. I’m gonna be true to my experiences as a Dominican woman.”

Editor’s Note: Zoe DeFazio is Web Editor at The Quadrangle.