Author: Tamilore Ajayi
one Today I am 18 years old in college and I have always pondered how names impact identity. My full name, “Tamilore,” means, “a gift from God” in Yoruba, a Nigerian language. I take pride in my name and cherish it because it is special and unique. With the uniqueness of my name came bullying, mockery and a search to belong. I found myself being torn between two worlds: an American girl at school and a Nigerian girl at home.
one Being a first generation American made school challenging. I never seemed to fully blend into any environment and navigating through education was the most difficult. Unlike most, my parents weren’t able to assist me with school because they were not accustomed to the American education system. The racial disparity I faced in classrooms made it difficult for me to feel like I could succeed as a Nigerian-American student. Teachers discriminated against me and attempted to undermine my success by saying I was incapable of my achievements. These obstacles combined to severely affect my view of myself as a Nigerian-American in American education. I had to independently navigate education and scavenge for resources to succeed to my fullest potential. Because of this, I have become what one would describe as a “self starter” in regards to education.
one My journey as a first generation Nigerian student has led me to establish, identity is predominantly what others perceive you as unless you are comfortable enough with yourself to define your own identity. This progressive thought process allowed me to overcome the barrier of being a first generation American. Once I was able to acknowledge this as my truth, I began to form my own educational and personal identity and move through the world as I desire and not by the means of others. My name is my identity.