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ï"¿Ren Harman: Good afternoon. This is Ren Harman, the project manager for VT Stories. Today is March 20, 2017 at about 1:50 p.m. So we have a nice guest with us today. So this is the only time I'll prompt you. And if you can just say, kind of in a full sentence, "my name is," and tell us when you were born and where you were born.

Kimberly Williams: My name is Kimberly Williams, and I was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on the Air Force base, and my birth date is 12/11/1984.

Ren: Okay, thank you. Can I ask you what years you attended Virginia Tech, and when you graduated, and your majors?

Kimberly: Yeah. It was 2002 I entered, and I took my time, and I left 2008. And I majored in psychology and I minored in creative writing and sociology.

Ren: Okay, so you're class of 2008.


Kimberly: Yes.

Ren: Okay, great. So this is kind of just the first general question. Can you just tell me a little bit about how you were raised and just tell me a little bit about your family?

Kimberly: Sure, yeah. I have an Air Force family, so we traveled quite a bit. After I was born in New Hampshire we left and lived in California. Little known fact, we lived right beside the little girl from "Poltergeist," which was really nice. And after that we immediately went to Rhein-Main Air Force Base in Germany. So was there two till like nine years old. And then the Air Force base went down, retired. That was the last, I believe that was the last closing of Air Force bases in Germany, and we went to Virginia, and yeah.

Ren: So what was it like moving around a lot with a military family?

Kimberly: At times it was lonely. Friendships come and go. But at the same time it was very invigorating. It was very beautiful to see all the places, the 2:00different languages, the different foods. Also just to see different places and experience it with your family was really important. I think it really prepared me to thinking about the consideration of the importance of relationships and friendships, but also the consideration that friendships come and go.

By far my favorite place to visit was probably Paris. The part I just remember so much it was just me and my mother. She took us separately, my brother and my mother. And it was gorgeous, and we had so much fun. We just ate so much--before I became lactose intolerant--so much cheese and bread. And just walking around, it was lovely. It was quite lovely. And let's see. A place I wish I would have, really could have remembered was Turkey.

00:02:56 Apparently that was when I nearly drowned. It was a nude beach, and I 3:00took off my little clothes, and then I ran right into the sea.

Ren: Oh, wow.

Kimberly: And so someone got me. And although I don't really remember too much of Turkey, I do remember the feeling of drowning, and so that has, of course, become an obstacle for me to ever swim. But I hope to do that this summer.

Ren: Okay.

Kimberly: Yes.

Ren: Awesome.

Kimberly: Yeah, but I loved it.

Ren: Can you tell me a little bit about your parents?

Kimberly: Yeah. So my dad is retired at this point. After they divorced in Virginia, my father went into corrections, which is pretty popular for retired military, Air Force based, Marines. So he was a prison psychologist. Thereafter he moved up and became an assistant warden. Little known fact, he was a prison psychologist when John Muhammad was still living, so he was part of his case load.

Ren: What prison?

Kimberly: I believe that was in Greensville, where the electric chair was located and the...yes.


Ren: And your mother?


Kimberly: And my mother is an entrepreneur, into business and construction. Right now she's just retired and substitute teaches for kids in Petersburg, Virginia. They met when they were around 18, 19, and were married for nearly 30 years. And they're happily divorced now. [Laughs.] And I have an older brother. He's an engineer. And...yeah.

Ren: What was it like growing up with an older brother? I have an older brother, so...

Kimberly: Oh, yeah, yeah. We're six years apart, so I think that, you know, those six years are very important in terms of the structure of having some sort of binding relationship on that maturation level. So he really saw me as a fly, and I was just really trying to just attach myself to him and immerse myself in him. [Laughs.] But he's pretty, you know, he's like a total dork, mathematic nerd, into Star Wars, all that great stuff, so...

It was really kind of like having a person in the house that you just wanted to 5:00attach yourself and then a person who just kind of wanted to like blow you away.

Ren: Get away.

Kimberly: Yeah, yeah. So I was like a little mosquito.

Ren: You hear this a lot when military families move kind of school to school. Did you feel like every time you moved you could maybe like try on a new personality or...? Like I always hear that a lot, which I always find really interesting.

Kimberly: Yeah, I was still the same oddball every single place. I was still the same oddball. I think the only difficult part about it was...probably, I think, like the most difficult part was moving from overseas to the States, 'cause when you're moving around on Air Force bases, it's still kind of like that same value system of kids who don't know when their father or mother are gonna come home, so there's a little bit of a shared love and binding that's there.

And so the teachers that are on base, you know, like the language instructors, 6:00it's kind of like a reoccurring theme, the same community. But coming from...and getting to the civilian life, that was hard. Yeah, that was very hard.

Ren: What role did education play in your home?

Kimberly: It was pretty dutiful. I knew right off the bat that I didn't have a choice, I was going to go to college. My brother switched from architect, to premed, to engineering, and so when I said I wanted to become a poet, it was looked down upon pretty bad.

So it was difficult. I think education for them was very polarized in terms of what is important and efficient, especially important and efficient for a black woman. But it was...yeah, reading. Reading was huge. I got my first--I remember my first book was a compilation of Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales that I got for my sixth birthday.

And both parents are both, you know, nerds, really into cinema, really 7:00into literature and music, music definitely. So that was really...that was really a big part of it, especially, too, with them being...growing up both pretty impoverished. They definitely wanted to make sure that I was granted the access to college.

Ren: So to this question about college, when did you kind of first start thinking about college? And then, you know, when did Virginia Tech come into the picture?

Kimberly: You know, that's a good question. I'm not sure if I ever thought about college because it was so implanted. It became like motored around my life. [Laughs.] It was always there, especially with my mother. I think Virginia Tech became something when they did some outreach to me. Originally I really wanted to go to NYU, but my parents did not trust me in New York, so they said they'll send me anywhere in Virginia, they'll support me then.

So Tech called out. I went to visit. I went to visit during a particular day 8:00where there's a lot of diverse candidacy and students there. And I really loved the campus. I loved how huge it was. I went to [Matoaca] High School. My graduating class was 127. So I really just wanted to go to a huge campus where I could just float around and feel like I, it almost...I could have that life that I did before. I could, you know, expand. There's always something new, a new movement, a new identity that was there.

And yeah, I just really loved the campus. And also during that time Nikki Giovanni was here, so that was really like my covert, like okay, well, I'm gonna go and like at least do poetry on the side so they won't know, so that was really important. I told them I was gonna go and do industrial organization psychology, but that didn't happen. [Laughs.]

Ren: You said Tech did some outreach. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Kimberly: Letters and phone calls about visiting campus.

Ren: Did any other universities do that?


Kimberly: Duke, George Mason, Christopher Newport, and...I'm trying to think. There were...oh, what is that one? It's JMU and then there's another one that's near JMU. Yeah, that's all I can think of off the bat, I think, yeah.

Ren: So how did that outreach make you feel? That's pretty interesting.

Kimberly: It made me feel very, like, I don't know, important. It made me feel like okay, well, it's a large school, and there are a lot of opportunities for growth here. It's very rural, and it's a far cry departure from NYU. However, you know, I could probably make this work. And for them to sort of extend a hand, it felt, I don't know, like alluring. It felt very intimate. I felt very appreciated, so yeah.

Ren: Let me ask you your first memory of Virginia Tech, when that was, and kind of what do you remember from that day? What did it look like, smell like, feel 10:00like, you know, maybe back then?

Kimberly: I think I remember just how it was...I remember thinking, actually, offhand, immediately, how borderline cultish it was. Everybody wears Virginia Tech gear, whether or not you're [affiliated] with Virginia Tech or not, you know, just surrounding counties, just everyone. There's always like a hat, a pin, a sweatshirt, something. And so getting over a little bit of that. Of course, you know, I'm like 17, 18, so I don't wear labels, you know, or anything that says that, be a part of anything, individual.

It felt really...yeah, it felt like a community, especially with looking at just the sense of how it kind of made it appear smaller, and how that sense of community made me feel that too, issues of race and gender would be, at that 11:00time, at least, less offensive because there's such a strong sense of community that's here.

And so getting on campus, I just remember how much pollen there was, and just like waves of yellow, and me having trouble breathing. I remember all of the Dave Matthew Band hats, the DMB that was everywhere. People talking about the next concert, or driving down [to] Charlottesville with that. I remember Coldplay was popular, so that was coming [from] a lot of people's cars. And I remember, too, on campus, that was when the BOV was thinking about deciding to take away affirmative action, so it was very tense, too, as well.

Ren: Can you talk about that a little bit?

Kimberly: Yeah, that was hell. CT had articles questioning racial intelligence and IQ, SAT scores. We were discussing it in classes where I was the only person of color.


I would cry after class. I felt just extremely alienated. I tried to transfer out my first semester and my parents wouldn't allow me. They said I had to toughen up, and it was a life experience. And it was difficult, I mean, it really was. People wrote stuff on our doors in our dorms. You know, various epithets.

We--I lived in Main Eggleston, and we had a lot of people who would party over the weekend and bring their significant other, and there would just be lots of "souvenirs" from their partying over the weekend, so we would try to write on our boards, please let's just be kind to Sandy, our local custodian, in terms of that. And so we would, you know, like you're dirty Niggers and stuff like that. So we're just like, okay, but we're not leaving--[laughs]--fecal matter and vomit on the floor, right, okay.

Ren: Right.

Kimberly: Instant Messenger was huge. We would random get hateful instant messages. I never got that, but a lot of my friends did. NAACP, that was the...I 13:00think that was 2004 was when the fecal matter was smeared. So it was a difficult climate. CT wrote an article about this really--

Ren: When you say CT, Collegiate Times?

Kimberly: Yes.

Ren: Okay.

Kimberly: This really corny movie, "Stomp the Yard," about Greek life and pledging. And it was really around, like, you know, like stomping and performance, and oh, God, it was terrible, so corny. But the CT was writing about it through a lens that was very uncomfortable, and very...I mean, othering is like topical and obvious, but something where it really cheapened the tradition of why it was important to get into black Greek life, and to step. They weren't quite understanding that.


So they kind of made it into almost like a [caricature] of a film they didn't understand why it was even produced. And it was, you know, almost offensive to them in terms of the eyes. So not really injecting and really integrating the historical significance of Greek life and stepping, and just kind of immediately getting into attacking Greek life and the history.

And I'm not Greek. I will never. But it was still, it's a big part of our black community that's here. So I remember how a bunch of us wrote a letter, collectively, together, to the CT and the article that was there. So there was a lot of unrest--

Ren: What was their response?

Kimberly: Nothing. They just printed it out. There could have been something written, but the person who submitted it, I'm not sure if he got something personally or not, so I don't know. I had a crush on him. There's weird things. Long story. So anyway, but yes, so... But I remember during that time, yeah, there was a lot of unrest, but we banded together.

Ren: Right.

Kimberly: So that was really important.


David: Can I ask--this is Davie Cline also sitting in on the interview--what your sort of sources of support were, or resources that you had available? So it sounds like you could reach out to one another, but what was the role...did the university have any sort of role or have folks that you could reach out to?

Kimberly: Not that I was aware of. It was only students and the Black Cultural Center. That was it. Sometimes I could go days without seeing myself, so that's why this place became so important to me. I think without having the center I don't think I would have graduated. I think I would have disobeyed my parents and be like, well, if you're not gonna support me, I'm dropping out, then, if you're not gonna let me transfer, so...

David: So can you just tell us just a little bit more about that in terms of what the many different things that this center provided space for?

Kimberly: Of course. It was, for one, just, especially when you're going into class, and at that time really thinking about putting on my armor, so putting on 16:00my hoodie, putting the hoodie on my head and just like being that person who's gonna be in the back corner, aggressive, isolated, sad, despondent because they're talking about whether or not I should even be here at Virginia Tech and that, you know, genetically or biologically I'm, you know, less bright or efficient than my counterparts.

To have a way to just not have that around me, not have that space, to just be around people who are going through the same experiences, but we can share, we can cry together, we can let loose and use slang, and watch--at that time BT was still popular--you know, all of that. It was just still so important just to have that. To play cards or just to hold each other, gossip. It was just was really important, because once you step out of that space, you put your shield up again.


You know that, you know, when you walk past someone, either they don't see you or they walk across the street, so you're navigating between hyper visibility or invisibility. And this is a place where you can just be. And that was really important during that time.

David: Can you remember the number of classes in which there was another student of color?

Kimberly: Dr. [Polanah], there were other people of color. Dr. Graves, sociology, there was one other person of color. Dr. Danny Axsom, advanced social psychology class, there was one other person of color.

David: And that's it?

Kimberly: And all of Nikki Giovanni's classes were all a good mixture, yeah, if you could get in.

Ren: Right.

Kimberly: Yes.

Ren: So you're talking about a lot of these, you know, these things that 18:00happened when you came to Virginia Tech. Before you got here, were you aware of maybe some, you know, some issues with other students of color or minority students?

Kimberly: Well, what was peculiar was that actually, as an Air Force brat, I guess you could say, we were actually pretty much shielded from that because everything was about patriotism and nationalism, so you had to put all that aside, because you're like, your family is serving the country. So when we get into civilian life, that's when a lot of these other identities kind of come into play.

So I felt a little bit angry and upset with my parents from shielding that from me because I had an abrupt transition from being in an Air Force base and then to go into a rural, predominantly white, you know, elementary, middle, high school, where they're wearing like the Confederate flag on their t-shirt. So that was a huge transition for me.

High school was probably a lot of epiphanies, I think, of thinking about race. To be honest, a lot of, the majority of my friends were white, just based on in 19:00Germany, Michael Jackson was big, and Sade, and Annie Lennox, so that's who I was listening to. So when kids found out who I was listening to, they were just like, what are you? [Laughs.] Like [Eurythmics], you know? And they're like, no. [Laughs.] So I was alienated a lot, and, you know, as a poser, acting white, quote, unquote.

And then when I got into elementary school, I did have a couple of black friends, but they moved, and so I really got into, especially with taking the honors classes you're essentially surrounded by whiteness. So I think that was when some of those issues and discussions sort of came on board, especially with teachers thinking that I was bothering my friends who were white, when I would be finished with an assignment and I would just be talking to them--they're finished, too, we're just talking. They're like, Kimberly, you're bothering them.


Being written up. Or the time that I was accused of plagiarism. I write. [Laughs.] I write well. So the teacher believed that it wasn't mine. And then that caused quite a debacle. There was a time when I had a black friend who got into UVA, Harvard, and Howard University, and all of my white friends thought that that was all because of affirmative action, even though he was No. 3 in the class.

He wound up choosing Howard over Harvard, and that became a huge thing in our school too, as well. And of course talking with him about why he chose that. So I think during those last, you know, junior and senior years it was particularly important. And so coming into Tech and knowing the statistic, at that time when I came in, it was 3.2, it was really...yeah, it was definitely on my mind, yes.


Ren: Do you think that prepared you, in some way, to maybe some of these things that might occur?

Kimberly: I think so. I think what was difficult was that there was a home base, and so at least I had my family and people that I've known for several years. But to sort of be catapulted to a place where I don't really know anybody... I've always been very, like, odd and kind of introverted. It was difficult. But immediately, when I first came here, all of my friends were majority black. So I didn't really have people who were not black friends until towards the end of me being a student here.

Ren: So you graduated with psychology, sociology and English, right?

Kimberly: Yes. [Laughs.] Yeah.

Ren: And you've mentioned a few professors and people on campus, but can you talk a little bit about some notable professors and maybe some mentors and advisors during your time here?

Kimberly: Of course. Paolo was great. Paolo was my first black professor. He was 22:00hilarious. I really loved his, you know, approach of the system, and questioning everything, and also I've always hated multiple choice or true and false. I love writing, so if I get an opportunity to actually make an argument and do essays I get really excited, so I really enjoyed that piece of his test. Just his humor. The fact that he canceled class and he never told us, and then I saw him at the Cellar drinking, those moments where it was just kind of like we really needed that [remedy] at the same time, you know, so...

Ren: Right.

Kimberly: And I didn't really know, actually, that he remembered me until I came here, when I came here. He's like, Miss Kimberly, how are you doing? And I was like, wait, you remember me? Of course I do. That was terrible.

And Dr. Graves, his class Sociology and Equality completely changed my life in 23:00terms of thinking about, and rethinking everything. At that time I was just, it was drummed in my head over and over that I was here because of affirmative action.

And that was the first time that he said, actually, who benefits, you know, benefits [more], it's white women. I was like, what? So it was like a huge kind of breaking down of the system. Like who actually smokes more weed? White male teenagers. What? So all of these, like, fixtures, like were just, you know, so it got me a lot into research.

And of course Nikki Giovanni. I came here for her secretly. So I took every class that I could get with her. And she really encouraged my writing and my poetry, and she later wrote me a letter of recommendation for grad school, so...

Ren: Oh, that's awesome. VT Stories alumni Nikki Giovanni. [Laughs.]

Kimberly: Yes. [Laughs.]

Ren: That's funny you say that about grad school. When we were doing the interview, someone knocked on her door to tell them that they had gotten into grad school, and she gave them a big hug. And you can just, you know, quickly tell, you know, what a treasure she is.


Kimberly: Absolutely.

Ren: So I want to get back to some of these other things that we talked about, but before we do that, maybe some favorite memories or experiences from your time.

Kimberly: Oh, favorite memories and experiences. Let's see... Oh. When I got this--it's actually right behind that cup--Women's Coordinator of the Year, it coincided with advancing Virginia Tech Women of the Year through Virginia Tech. That was huge.

Ren: Oh, very cool.

Kimberly: I created an organization, an international women's organization, after learning about what was going on in Sudan. And it was great. And that was like really an awesome moment. And my mother came. They didn't tell me she was coming, so it was really great to see her. I would say...let's see, what else was really great?

I walked with someone. We went to the Cascades together. The other other person of color in the advanced psychology Danny Axsom class, and we became very close. 25:00And that was really a wonderful time of just talking and really being close. They transferred a week later to Arizona State and didn't even let me know, but it was just like... [Laughs.] But it was very, like, I don't know, you know, when you just, again, thinking about my Air Force, like sometimes people are just there, and just goes with the wind. You have to just love the time that you have there with people.

Ren: Right.

Kimberly: I'm trying to think of other... Angela Davis, when she came here when I was a student, and then having someone like sneak into the reception and I got a book signed. And I got another book signed to send to my mother for her birthday.

Ren: Oh, nice.

Kimberly: That was really amazing. The time I went to the football game. I'm not really into football. It's really about the turkey leg for me. And then it was cooked perfectly. And then I went home and I repurposed it for other meals.

Ren: That's awesome.

Kimberly: Yeah. That was really great. And the time that, like, I was in Bible study and I made a Southern meal for my Bible study cohort, and they loved it.


And they wanted me to immediately after--I had made like fried chicken and collard greens and like corn bread. They wanted me to make fried fish like right after. And I was just like you guys are full. They were like, yes.

Ren: Sounds good.

Kimberly: So that was really...yeah, those are some memories that I...I really enjoyed quite a bit. And the person who was here, the grad student, [Takiyah Amin]. I think she's now at NC State doing theater and production. And I went to her house, and she made me spaghetti, and we watched "Higher Learning." [Laughs.] Which was a really bad... [Laughs.] Red carpet.

Ren: Right.

Kimberly: Probably not a good [context], foreshadowing to Tech. But talking with her about it and like just literally her being like, sensing that I'm this lonely kid who's just trying to navigate the space, and just going to her house, and her making me spaghetti.

And then we watch a movie and then we talk about it after. It was just... I'll 27:00never forget that. It really meant a lot to me, so...

Ren: So we talked a little bit about this already, but maybe some difficult, kind of the reverse of that question, some difficult experiences that you had during your time as a student.

Kimberly: I think definitely a lot of those...a lot of those times were geared towards identity issues and biases. So particularly with the classroom experiences were really difficult, they were really hard. Just talking up in class, but also writing, being paralyzed at times. I had...the SATs.

I knew that, like, I sucked at math, so I went above and beyond to try to do really well on my SATs with English. So my vocabulary was wide, but then, too, I still use a thesaurus a lot because I write poetry. And so getting like Cs on my essays and saying that I was trying too hard, and so removing the essay and removing the thesaurus, but also trying to, like, I guess dilute my vocabulary 28:00was really hard.

The Math Emporium is horrible, just everything about it. I would say the...all the times where there were parties and the cops would come, and we'd have to run on foot, take off our heels, was kind of a good and also a bad moment. And the time that I almost got into--well, this [actually could be somewhat] of a good memory, a bad memory--but I was somewhat dating this person, a fraternity house, and his fraternity brother was trying to really coax a woman drinking, drinking, drinking again so he could have a liaison with her without consent, it seemed.

And we both interrupted, and it got almost physical, but...and got her home. 29:00That was a was a really, like, frightening experience, but it was also a very gratifying experience, especially during that time. There was a time period where it just seemed like every email was about a sexual assault that we would get.

I think difficult periods, too, definitely 4/16 was huge. At the time I worked at Hot Topic, which was actually a really great place to work. You get--I'm not sure they still have this--but you get paid to go to concerts for free, so you do like a fashion report, and you only have to ask the customer three times how they're doing. They don't want you to push stuff. They want you to, like, create an atmosphere. It was nice. Anyway.

Ren: Yeah, in the Christiansburg Mall.

Kimberly: Yes. We got protestors there.

Ren: Hm.

Kimberly: Yeah. Christians. Hardcore, for the most, Christians, yeah. Yeah. And Nazis. And I was the key holder. So my manager wasn't there and they wanted a return, they had to go to me. So I had to make sure my other, another...people 30:00that were around me just in case like stuff got real.

Ren: Wow.

Kimberly: Yeah. It was unusual. Still best place by far to work. And I worked at Subway and Aeropostale in the mall, too.

Ren: Okay.

Kimberly: Yeah. Anyway.

Ren: We may have crossed paths at some point.

Kimberly: Yes, absolutely. And I worked at PacSun. Yah, Hot Topic by far the best. But my boss at Hot Topic let...she alerted me. At that time I was gonna have lunch with friends at West End, and skip class, and I slept in instead. Then she called me and know, I was coming in to work later on that evening. She's like, don't come in to work, don't go on campus.

I was like, what are you talking about? She's like they're saying that someone, you know, was shot, you know, and died at Tech, but I'm hearing rumors that there's more. So I stayed at home and then I just tracked the Internet. And then just I could not believe what was happening. I just...I just could not believe it. It was like literally disbelief, like this is not happening at all.


And then getting all the phone calls just after another, after another from the family, from friends, from exes making sure that I was okay. And I just remember like feeling very...feeling very hopeless. I feel like I lost all sense of direction and power, a feeling that you'd done everything right in terms of getting good grades, you know, being nice, being kind, not getting pregnant, not getting incarcerated, you go to college, you're doing everything, the conventional thing that you're supposed to do to be sustainable or, you know, at least halfway human to be black, and then feeling in an environment, and predominantly white, that I feel unsafe.

I felt very betrayed, like in terms of what I thought. I did everything right and I felt betrayed by Tech at that time. So I felt that I was doing everything. And I just, I feel like I couldn't, like, discern anything.

Like I feel like I couldn't negotiate anything. Like everything just felt 32:00really....sound and taste, everything was just like whacked, it was just completely off. I just felt very lost.

Ren: We talked a little bit about this when I interviewed Nikki Giovanni about her convocation speech, and I asked her, and we talked a lot about that, about, you know, oftentimes no one is prepared for something like this. No one deserves a tragedy, right? And how this university responded, you know, in a way, you know. She was basically saying, you know, she didn't want that to define the university, obviously.

And in her own way, you know, she, you know, we are Virginia Tech has just become synonymous with this university. But to kind of hear all these perspectives--because this obviously comes up a lot--and it's really interesting how it just kind of threw you because you thought safe place, and then something like this happens. So that's really interesting.

Kimberly: Yeah.

Ren: So we'll come back to kind of, you know, your role here at Virginia Tech 33:00now. So after you graduated, where did you go next?

Kimberly: I was very difficult for me finding a job here during that time. I don't know what was going on. But I wanted to...I wanted to get into clinical work, and it was very difficult finding that sort of entry level position. But I found...I remember like I actually skipped class. I was taking The Bible as Literature, and I skipped it, and then the professor saw me crying in Squires, and like gave me some tips, [employers]. I remember that, especially [really] at the moment.

And...but yeah, I eventually found a job, a home based counseling job. It's essentially a social worker, but they get paid less and they have to do more. But it's all bad. Social workers are still, they need more money and support and love.

Ren: My aunt's a social worker.


Kimberly: Yeah, pray for her. So... If you don't believe, just...whatever. [Laughs.] Yeah, so I did that. 'Cause I was young, of color, I got essentially all the clients in the [New River] Valley area that were kids, you know, who were of color. So I worked a little bit in Giles, Pulaski, Radford, Blacksburg, with kids that were involved with DSS, Department of Social Services. So they were taken off and I'm essentially just making sure that everything's going okay, and the parent's doing what they're supposed to be doing, and the kid is feeling safe.

Ren: Did you use a lot of your experiences as an undergrad to kind of relate to some of these kids?

Kimberly: There was nothing that could have prepared me for that job. [Laughs.]

Ren: Wow. I would imagine.

Kimberly: Yeah. Yeah, so the...what is it, the retention rate was six months.

Ren: Wow.

Kimberly: I stayed for seven and a half. And then after that I went to work for the Radford Women's Resource Center as an overnight counselor there, full-time.

But during that job it was difficult because for one, it was the area. 35:00So it was very like working class, or very like impoverished, like rural area. And then so you have this, like, bachelor's degree, like black woman who's going into the house saying, are you treating your kids right? Oh, man, it was hell. [Laughs.] It was complete hell. But I think that it taught me a lot, definitely a lot, especially with patience with relationships.

And it was definitely, in terms of, too, the commonalities that we had, a lot of the families that are here, that they didn't see, too, along with people who are college educated or people who were of color, they just did not see at all. So that was really important.

So I connected with them through music. At that time I was also DJ-ing for [Wubad] 00:35:48, and so the first thing, you know, they taught is that, like, when you''s, essentially it's about the child, but you're not gonna get to the child unless you get to the parents, so like really establishing a relationship with them.

So like oh, like what do you listen to? And concerts, and your records, and all 36:00that stuff, and talking to them about that. I'm a cook. Like what do they like to cook? Just everything I could think of to establish a rapport with them. And then usually after one to two months, 'cause it took some time, because I was of color--usually it takes about a couple weeks--[laughs]--I finally got to the kid. So it took a lot. It took a lot out of me.

And that was also during the same time that...that was the first election with President Obama, so the atmosphere, in general, was very tense, too. So trying to like navigate that, trying to like have, like I'm not even remotely gonna talk about politics, no, like no. They keep trying to, like, test me, and I'm like not gonna do that. But that was a very important job.

Ren: Was that brought up a lot in these conversations with families and kids?

Kimberly: At times. Sometimes through comments and remarks. I would just let that bypass. It just wasn't... I mean, like with that job, too, I had to kind of understand like where they were coming from. I had to let a lot of stuff kind of go by.

I was sexualized a lot. I had to sort of like navigate, like, boundaries of 37:00which case I had to drop or like which one to do. So started to dress down and dress butch. And then so they all assumed I was gay, and that brought up other issues. Which, I am queer, but at that time I was not out to them. Or just, you know, my youth definitely came up. My privilege of having a degree came up quite a bit. The fact that I didn't have any children, you know, was also huge, so...

But all of my cases that I had probably except one I established a pretty good rapport. Once they saw that I honestly just wanted to make sure that they were okay, that I had no hidden agenda--if there was one, they wouldn't have told me--it was fine. They were really great.

Ren: A couple of things I want to follow up here.

Kimberly: Yeah.

Ren: You've mentioned a couple times, you know, some Bible classes and some 38:00things, so what role has religion played in your life, maybe from an early age, and then kind of until now?

Kimberly: We were raised sort of, I guess, holiday Christians. And then I got into Christianity huge into here at Tech, at first with Cru. And then eventually I dropped out at Cru because of race. Then I went into Impact, which was essentially Cru, but it was for black kids. But I don't believe Impact is no longer here.

Because, to be candid, I didn't drink, I didn't party, I wasn't with anyone. All I wanted to do was like read and like watch the X-Men and like listen to Nine Inch Nails. And to find that group, it was...they were in those spaces.

So I just kind of like, okay, well, let me see what this is about. So it was 39:00more or less like, to be honest. And then like getting more into this environment, I needed something else. So I feel like underneath that current I did want to get into faith, but I wasn't ready to be conscious about that. But at the time people who weren't into partying and just wanted to like eat Doritos and like watch reruns of X-Men, I could do that with them. I couldn't do that with a lot of other people. So I explored that, and got into that.

I got out of the...there was a derivative of like a Cru Bible study that I still always kept, even though I was in Impact. I stopped doing that once I got into a fight with my Bible study leader after she said that anyone who was not saved would go to hell. And I just didn't agree with that. And I got into a fight, and I cried, and I just left. And so that was the time that I...I didn't probably go back to church until grad school.

David: Can I ask a follow-up? This is David Cline again.


Kimberly: Yes.

David: Since you do have the benefit of kind of a long view, right, about 15 years or so of experience with Tech, when you mentioned Impact and that it was no longer here, and you mentioned the day that you came as a prospective student that it was a diversity recruitment day or something like that, or some effort there--

Kimberly: Yeah, they're sneaky.

David: Yeah. What have you seen come and go in terms of efforts? And what are your reflections on that? If you can.

Kimberly: Let's see, come and go. Takiyah left from the Black Cultural Center, but I knew that was temporary. She was a Ph.D. candidate. Dr. Graves is still here. Polanah is still here. I never had Kwame, but I remember him being there when I was a student. And that's it. I'm surprised that as I come back here, Africana is not an actual, its own department in another center.


I thought, I guess, like to come back there would be a queer studies, there would be classes like taught like around sort of new development, and new theory, and new approaches. But I know that can't happen unless professors get support and more money, and centers and departments do.

So case in point, I'm always like nudging Dr. [Faulkner] and Dr. Graves to, like, can you teach a class on O.J. Simpson, you know, or can you teach a class on like Michael Jackson and blackness, and like economics? And they're like yeah, we totally, we might be able to do O.J. Simpson. But like all these like nuanced things that, like, we're all so taxed with A, B, and C, and we have to teach these other classes because there's nobody else. So I'm really surprised that in terms of faculty of color, it's gone down or remained the same.

Departments, diversity support, I think like it's pretty huge that I'm here. 42:00Before I think like the last person who was here was in like maybe '92, '91.

Ren: Oh, wow.

Kimberly: So yeah, they never had like a full-time person. So that's pretty huge. And now it's more or less like okay, well, we have this Project 2022, one person's just not gonna be enough, so what do we do to build access and support of new students that are coming? And I hear the same thing for Apple Action students that they want to do.

So during my onboarding orientation, Tech is saying that they really want to start reaching out to Giles, Pulaski, West Virginia. And I'm like, well, what are you doing about those retention efforts? So I'm always very wary of the focus and attention and money that's given to admissions, but not retention, and I think that that's like a spot that a lot of universities have. It's never around retention, it's just getting them in there for those numbers, and then like after that they just kind of like forget.

David: So did you see that in your own experience with friends of color who 43:00didn't make it to graduation?

Kimberly: Yes. Yeah, definitely, yeah. A lot of come and went, yeah. Yeah, that was...that was hard. I had...there was someone I was gonna roommate with, and one dropped out. One had a child and still graduated here, doing actually quite well now. But the other one, it was really hard for her. Yeah, I remember she would take up collection plates for her to pay for books, so that was really hard, yeah. But yeah, a lot of students it was just... And I always thought about that, too, like why did I, or how could I stay. What did I have to keep me here. But...yeah.

David: And this is one of the things, as a historian, that I find interesting, and in doing this project, is hearing about some programs that existed at certain points that went away.

Kimberly: Yes.

David: And what have been the results of the lack of those programs.

Kimberly: Of course, yeah. And I have no idea what happened to Impact. I ask 44:00people and they don't know what I'm talking about, so it must have went away, I guess, quite some time ago if nobody even has an institutional memory of it. But that was essentially like Cru for black students. They would have like service on Fridays and Sundays, and a lot of fellowship and, yeah.

Ren: Another thing I wanted to talk to you a little bit about is gender and sexuality. So you identified yourself as queer.

Kimberly: Yes.

Ren: Can you talk a little bit kind of about that, you know, in terms of being a student here, being a black female student, and then kind of how all these layers and how it worked?

Kimberly: Nah. No. I did not. I was not out. People had their assumptions, 'cause I made jokes all the time, because dating here--I think dating in university during that time range is just horrible and hilarious, you know.


I mean, the women are primed to this is where you find your husband, you know, make that claim, and the men are told to...this is my time to have fun. So during that mismatching of norms and patriarchy, it's's horrible. So I would always make jokes like, you know, yeah, I'm dating men for now, or something along those lines.

And once the time it was huge in the black community to get dreadlocks, and so I cut off all my hair, so I started locking up, so that was always like a huge, like, s-s-s-s, like all across, you know, like a possible, like if it came, it's gonna come out, you know, so... Of course now everyone has locks and natural hair, but during the time that I was here it was huge.

But no, I wasn't out. I didn't feel safe. It was not...there was no one who was out in the Black Cultural Center. There were people who were so obviously lesbians who still would say that they're straight.

It was was not seen as anything acceptable in the black community. And 46:00then if I were to go to Rainbow at the time, it was all white. And because of the friction between some of the black community members and Rainbow, I didn't feel comfortable. I felt like I would have already got like a blemish.

And the Women's Center was all white. There was Mary Grace who was there, but I didn't feel quite comfortable coming out. And then so I felt like if I were to come out, then I would have to...I would have had to lose this space. And then I could not afford that, to lose this space, so...yeah.

Ren: So now, as a, you know, that you are out, and you identify as queer, and you're also obviously African American, is there kind of this, almost this tri cultural experience that occurs, right? Can you talk a little bit about that?


Kimberly: You know, not that much has changed. Working with students, I have to call them out, have some tough conversations with them. There was a church that I went to of students here in the beginning, when I came here. It was great. It was loved. And pastor and wife, they're amazing people. And every time I tell the story I feel a sense of guilt because they're so amazing. But I needed to know how they felt about queerness. It didn't go well, so I left, you know.

And it was hard because students were like, hey, how come you don't go anymore? And it was like what do I say? You know? At one point it's kind of like the whole coming out thing, but also with, you know, outing the pastors. I don't want them to get, like, you know, like they're bad or anything like that, you know, even though I do have, you know, I feel personal hurt. But a lot of them, a lot of people just honestly assumed anyway, they said, because of my short hair, and I didn't talk a lot about men. [Laughs.]

I asked somebody, and I was like, what did you assume? Just like yeah, you have short hair and don't talk about men. I was like that's...that could be, I mean, 48:00that could be like a lot of people, like especially, like I notice with like moms around this area, like past 40 they all have this cut. They don't have the line, you know, but that's like a ode to hip hop, but whatever.

So...but I do notice that, though, although they're not out, out, there are a lot of women of color and men that have been here and they tell me, and it's kind of in [confidence]. And I try to usher them to the LGBTQ+ Center, especially because the director is of color. But still no. They feel like they're gonna have to choose a little bit.

So I'm still trying to see what I can do to make that space. That's really my goal, one of my big goals here, is to really change that climate, but I don't know if that's gonna be...that's an institutional level, too, as well. We don't have out professors, and we don't have a queer and gender studies department, so I don't know how much I can impact. But it is something I do want to help, at least.

Ren: Can you talk a little bit about your decision to attend Cornell?


Kimberly: Oh. Fully funded programs. I got into it and at the time Nikki said you should really look into a program, and I was just like, really? She's like, yeah. And so she recommended Columbia. Columbia was not fully funded, and did not have a lot of money. Did have [Sonia Sanchez] who was there, who's amazing. during that time Nikki recommended me to go talk with Lucinda Roy and Erika Meitner. Lucinda Roy gave me this Norton anthology and told me what to be reading, what to be thinking. Erika Meitner gave me a whole list of places to go and to apply based on my work. And when I was looking on researching different programs, I saw that not only Cornell was fully funded, but there was, you know, two black faculty members.

The libraries, like, there are like ten of them. It was in New York, so like, 50:00you know, like maybe I wouldn't be completely catapulted into the city life. Got accustomed to the rural area. But, you know, I could have some distance there. And it seemed like they gave you a lot of free rein to think about discipline, you know, and also to take up and think about, you know, adding theory and practice, so I just applied.

And the way that they have it, there's like a particular professor who is really like a specially, an advocate of your work. They call you on the phone. And so I had Alice Fulton call me. And I just cried, and I was so happy, and so then I went. And...yeah. So it was great. And when I was talking to Alice, she was like, yeah, I met Nikki, she's wonderful, and I read at Virginia Tech, and I love Gillie's. I was like, yeah, so do I. And yeah.

Ren: As one does, right.

Kimberly: Yes, right. I didn't know Gillie's was like really nationally know, but it is. Then there's Moosewood Lodge in Upstate New York. We're like, but Gillie's is better. And I was like, yes.

Ren: So I want to get to kind of your current position here. So can you just 51:00state kind of your title, I guess?

Kimberly: Of course.

Ren: And some of just your responsibilities here at the center?

Kimberly: Everything. Assistant Director of the Intercultural Engagement Center, where I oversee the Black Cultural Center. And duties student advocacy, student support, student advising, mentoring, faculty collaborations, faculty embedding in the center, fundraising for the center and for programming, thinking about MLK Week, Black History Month, intersectional and interdisciplinary programming across Virginia Tech, and bringing in academic success into the center. So yeah.

Ren: Wow. [Laughs.] Anything and everything.

Kimberly: Yes.

Ren: All you.

Kimberly: Right? Isn't it great?

Ren: How do you sleep? Or when do you sleep, I guess is a better question?

Kimberly: Um...

David: Can I ask--this is David again. Give the experiences that you had here 52:00and then working, you know, with the sort of counseling work that you were doing in the community, you knew where you were coming back to. What went through your head? What were the pros and cons? What's the argument that was going on inside your brain?

Kimberly: Well, at the time, after grad school, when I was teaching, I always envisioned that I was gonna become an English professor. That was like my whole, you know. And then once I met my committee, and once I talked with other professors, and once I learned how incredibly god-awful the tenure process is, how...yeah, and once someone slipped me the book "Presumed Incompetence" I was just like, all right, I'm done.

And then when I was teaching, especially, too, like, you know, teaching students who are coming from a background of such academic rigorness and privilege, to 53:00where they're coming in, they don't take me seriously, or they take me too seriously.

Everything is like what's right or wrong. The three paragraph, you know, five paragraph model is correct. That's what I've been taught. You are wrong. There has to be a right way in terms of making, what is it, the...I call it three story thesis. You know, they're like no, there has to be something like easier. It was was was so difficult to try to push them to get out of that model.

And I think like finally, like the last year, I got like a knack for it of like how I can safely think about their emotional intelligence and their safety and myself. But this is after, like, at the, you know, the expense of me not thinking about my thesis. 'Cause you want to change them. You're like no, like I'm gonna teach them everything that I never got to learn, you know, so I'll teach them this, this and that. And they're just kind of like, what is this? You know?


So it was too much. So after that I was just like, well, I really want to make institutional change. Maybe I should get into higher ed, into administration. So after that I applied and I went, I worked at Hamilton College, where I was the only full-time staff member in diversity for an entire year. So making the decision to come here, looking at the pros and cons, just to put that context, that did help, knowing that at least there would be a sense of narrowing down of a focus.

So I'm not, you know, assistant director of all things diversity and inclusion, where there I was. Here it's a center. It still has a ways to go in terms of staffing supports, acknowledgement, but, you know, the familiarity of coming back here, of being closer to my family, of also being closer to some of my mentors who really got me into the work, who encouraged my writing and who 55:00always encouraged me to put that into my, and to embed that into my life was something that I kind of really looked forward to, to being here.

I remember the international street fair, wanting to explore more of the Appalachian Trail and life here was really important to me, especially with the political climate. So that was...yeah. So that kind of like was that, yeah, that--I think the only sort of, you know, the hesitancy was to think about, you know, I had a time when I was a student, and I had a memory, and I have a box of Tech, and now how is that going to be obliterated with me now being a staff member at Tech because I'm gonna see the circuitry.

Ren: What things do you see on campus at the university that encourage you or inspire you?

Kimberly: Students. They're hilarious. They are ridiculously smart and kind and 56:00narcissistic, and evil, and... [Laughs.] They're just, they're just everything that's...I don't...that's really refreshing and new and rejuvenating. I feel like one of the cool parts of working in an institution, especially with professors, like you're like a vampire. Like how do you ever get old?

You get to, like...these new batches of students, and you have to like apply new theory and new curriculum, and apply it to what they're thinking, and it's just, it just seems like if you can get past the...the constant like wars of tenure, like it's really like...once you get in the classroom, it just seems like the best gig ever. And so for me being able to see their side of advocacy and social justice is really like a plus, and to help guide them, it's really amazing.

Ren: What concerns you or worries you, keeps you up at night?


Kimberly: There's not an infrastructure of diversity at Tech. Not in curriculum, not in academics, not in the center. And so that...there's still students that are coming in that are dropping, that are taking some time off. And that when we have 2022 we're gonna see a lot of that. And that we're not gonna support them. That I'm gonna see something slip by, someone slip by and it's gonna be really bad. Yeah.

Ren: Some changes from your time as a student until now, some changes through time, and what do you kind of think about some of those changes?

Kimberly: I feel like Tech has gotten a lot more like metropolitan. Like it's also dispersed a lot further than I originally thought. Like Tech has a pretty good grounding space in Christiansburg now, and in Radford, too, as well. And I 58:00wasn't expecting that.

A lot more bourgeois apartment complexes. I feel like the class dynamic is completely different. When I was here it was majority working class. I think now that's completely new. I think especially with a lot of the outreach they do in northern Virginia. Which has also, I believe, changed, too, the mode of social justice ideology across campus because of the class.

Like, it's like [similarities] 00:58:31, that's like now going with students. I think before, with the...sort of like the working class narrative that was there, there was more of a familiar and more of a contemporary history of looking at like class and race and fighting and thinking about that, especially with their family, their local community.

But now they're all going to the private institute together at a northern 59:00Virginia school, so it kind of changes that dynamic, I think, a little bit in terms of social justice. Because for one, class is not really involved. Two, it becomes more, I think, singular and insular about some of the issues they want to attack, and it's not going across lines of intersectionality and coalition building, which is usually what happens when you're in a rich high school, so... Or rich area.

Ren: So what are some changes you would like to sees? I know that's a pretty broad and big questions, but... If you had a magic wand.

Kimberly: Gosh. I mean, it would be wonderful, I mean, I think a lot of changes I'm not really gonna see until I'm well, well gone. But for there to be like a larger structure, a structure with inclusion across campus.

So like thinking about expanding departments, additional faculty, thinking about 60:00additional people, you know, in the center, robust, fully funded programs for students to go study abroad, and the same for internships, where they can be competitive with their peers to go to New York City or D.C. and not have to worry about, you know, through jobs or just not be able to take the internship, and so they work at Subway for all summers throughout their entire career, and when they go and apply for the job they wonder why it's so difficult for them to get a job.

Just, you know, having more, you know, counseling staff. Right now--when I was here there was only one black counselor, and now there are two, which is great. But it would be a lot greater to have more. [Laughs.] To bring more of art. I know it's Virginia Tech. A lot of the money and a lot of the love is in engineering and STEM.


But it would be awesome to expand that to STEAM. It would be great to have more of the Moss Center, you know, embedded across campus. I just really want to think about and consider that. A lot of students, too, that are in STEM, the black students, they do art on the side. And some of them are really gifted, and I talk to them, and they're like it's not what my parents sent me here for.

So it's almost kind of like, whoa, it pushes me back, too, in terms of that. So I think just kind of wanting to cultivate that and bring that out of them. Also as like a mechanism for them for coping I think it's really important that I want to give to them to at least plant in them.

Ren: So these are pretty kind of broad questions here. So if someone says Virginia Tech, what's the first thing you think of?

Kimberly: Let's go, Hokies.

Ren: [Laughs.] Right. We were talking about this the other day. So you graduated in 2008, so you were here, I guess, for the concert and the chant of "We are 62:00Virginia Tech."

Kimberly: Mm-hmm.

Ren: And I remember John Mayer walked up on stage and he didn't play for a long time. He just was like...I think he was a little bit in awe, 'cause, like, it was like the tension was drawn off the concert and off of him. I was a freshman in 2007, and the tension was drawn off of him and it was like this, you know, yes, there's a concert that's going on, we're glad you're here, but let us do this, because this is us, this is us dealing with, you know, the event that happened the previous April.

Kimberly: Yeah.

Ren: But so let's go Hokies, that's the first thing. [Laughs.]

Kimberly: Yes.

Ren: What would you like people to know about you?

Kimberly: Let's see. I guess what I...I guess, I don't know, think about, like, know about me. I'm a dork.

Ren: I love your office, by the way.

Kimberly: Yeah, totally, right? I'm just like an utter nerd, dork. I remember my dad came this past weekend, went to see "King Kong," and I'm like oh, this is 63:00gonna be terrible. Actually wasn't that bad.

Ren: Right.

Kimberly: And really, it was a complete allegory for the Vietnam War, like, so and we were talking about it. Like I just love thinking about that, like just so much, you know. And I was like no, Dad, like this is too wild. I'm like picking up everything.

Or the, oh gosh, there was that movie that just came out like not too long ago. It's called like "Lights Out." It's like a really thriller. And me and my friends were talking about how it's like a complete metaphor for the falling of Detroit. 'Cause like it's set in Detroit, and like when they get out of the house, like, it's just like in shambles. It looks like "Robocop," like the first one, you know?

Ren: Right. I read a book about Detroit from Charlie LeDuff, and I couldn't put it down.

Kimberly: Yeah.

Ren: Like I finished it in like a day, it was so interesting. I've never been to Detroit, but, you know, so you brought that up.

Kimberly: Yeah, no, no, and it makes me--

Ren: Made me think of that.

Kimberly: And it makes me, too, think of like how my first introduction to Detroit, like for you it seems like it was actually meaningful. Mine was "Robocop," so, like...

Ren: [Laughs.]

Kimberly: Which is probably not good.

Ren: Right.

Kimberly: But I actually met Verhoeven, too, 'cause his daughter teaches at 64:00Cornell, and so he came to, like, you know, like play--I forgot what movie offhand, and then he was walking around at the museum, and like me and my dad were like, hey, Paul! And then my dad loves Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I don't like him because of what he did to [unintelligible] 01:04:17, but yes. But he went, like... Yeah, they were talking, and it was great. So yeah, I'm an utter dork, as you can see. And that I'm an introvert. But during the time that I am here and I'm present with people I love to listen and to talk with them, and to talk with them, but then I need time to crawl back.

Ren: It's interesting because you said the introvert thing, but you seem like you're in a job and a position where you've got to kind of step out of that, don't you?

Kimberly: Absolutely. And during that time that it's there, I want to be there for students. I want them to have a person who I wish could have been like here. Like I bake once a week and put stuff out from them. I learned that, actually, from Mary Grace Campos from the Women's Center.


Have snacks and tea with them. I try to talk about, with them, like what are they doing career-wise, how are they thinking about that, are they making sure that they're doing time management. Let's see. I'm really into comics. I cried at "Logan." I feel like "Logan" also, too, is an allegory of our civil rights leaders. [Laughs.] Yeah. I--

Ren: I've got to go back and watch some movies. [Laughter.]

Kimberly: Right? Yeah. No, I just--

Ren: You take a lot out of these movies.

Kimberly: Right? A lot of the stuff. I'm huge into horror. Me and my dad are both into horror buffs. That's why I really can't way to, like, really sit down with Emily [Satterwhite] and talk about her work.

I was born with an inverted right foot, where I would have to get a tiny, adorable brace for a good much of my life. But my family--my mother was a nurse, and so she learned if you put your child immediately in ballet, like right when they're able to walk, it could eventually correct itself, so I was in ballet in 66:00Germany for quite a bit of time.

And I really wanted to study ballet when I came here to Virginia, and then they divorced, and we were broke, and then puberty came in. All of those things said be a writer instead.

Ren: Wow. [Laughs.]

Kimberly: Yeah, yeah. [Laughs.] Yes. But I really, I still, I love ballet. I'm obsessed with Misty Copeland.

David: The dancer lives within you.

Kimberly: That's right. [Laughter.] Or what's her...Michaela DePrince. I remember like seeing her, and like literally trying to replicate her pirouette in my kitchen. Ridiculous. Just...yeah, love that, all that stuff.

Ren: What would you like people to know maybe they don't know about Virginia Tech, both as a student and as a faculty member?

Kimberly: I think as a student you can make it here. I think you can find your 67:00support system and you can really potentially thrive here. I think if you really think about expanding what you believe community could be, and coalition building. I think as a faculty member to think about how the area in your town is also yours, and how you're implicit into that, too, as well. And how that needs to be part of your breath.

And that you also need to find your community, it could be far away, to sustain yourself here because it's...I think it can be very isolating and debilitating here as a faculty advisor, member, administrator. And this is coming from a person who knows the climate, so I can't imagine how it is for others that are here.

Ren: I would agree 100%.

Kimberly: Yeah.

Ren: I just keep deferring to you. So what I find so interesting about kind of 68:00your story, both as, you know, as a student here, you learned all these things from people that you've mentioned, and you kind of took all that and then blended it with your own kind of family history and a little bit about you, and now you're like almost giving back, in a way, as an alumni to kind of be, you know, an avenue of support for some of these students because, you know, like you said, if it hadn't been for these folks when you were here, you may not have graduated.

And I think that speaks to maybe the potential of, you know, as a Virginia Tech alumni, like what you can kind of...what you do in this motto that, you know, we all kind of try to live by. Is that how you see your work and what you do a little bit?

Kimberly: Yeah, that I may serve, yeah. I mean, I remember--I know for right now I hear students believe that it's kind of lost its credibility because of's all [absconded] 01:08:54 to that one big, the big event. Which I never even participated in. But I was always in service.


But I always thought that it was problematic. But I hear that, you know. But yeah. That was huge. I mean, when I was a student here, like that was really pushed a lot, so immediately I nose dived into...I volunteered at the Raft suicide hotline, the Women's Resource Center, the Somali refugee in Salem-Roanoke. I mean, it was pushed with like faculty, with like RAs. So to coming back here I feel like yeah, definitely, like that's...that's streamlining, you know, Tech's idiom.

Ren: So kind of last question here. Is there kind of anything that I didn't ask that you thought I would have asked, or anything you would like to say? This is just kind of an open floor for you to say whatever's on your mind and on your heart.

Kimberly: Yeah, I thought you were gonna ask me like the sound track of Tech.

Ren: Oh, okay.

Kimberly: Like... Yeah, 'cause people do like different, like, you know.

Ren: Yeah.

Kimberly: Yeah, so...but I already talked about it anyway. It was Dave Mathews Band and Coldplay, so I snuck it in there.


Ren: Yeah. [Laughter.] Which goes to that 2007 concert.

David: It's a great question. We're gonna start asking that. The sound track. What was your sound track? Yeah, what's your mixed tape.

Ren: 'Cause when you were talking about all the Dave Mathews, was it American Girl? Was that the name of the album? And the sticker was, I mean, it was everywhere.

Kimberly: Everywhere. And the hate, like DMB. I was like, what is this? And everybody, like, also, too, like tried to dress similarly like to Dave. So it was like the Birkenstocks, and like the free-flowing like linen, you know, and like a sort of like--

Ren: V-neck.

Kimberly: Yeah. It was like, really was...I don't know. And then it was just...he really loved him. I'm not gonna lie, I did get suckered into Coldplay. I went to see them when I was a student here. To be fair, to be fair, Yellow was a good album--[laughs]--all right? It was different. [Laughs.]

Ren: That's funny.

Kimberly: But yeah, and I think, too, Kanye was here a little after I left. It 71:00would have been nice to see Kanye before. Yeah, I'm trying to think of other... Yeah, I actually have, yeah, a lot of C Murder, Master P, Big Timers. Oh, gosh, there's so much I'm thinking about in terms of club music. Ying Yang Twins were huge here because they also would frequently go to Petersburg, Virginia. Little John was huge during my freshman and sophomore year.

"Chappelle Show." Oh, my goodness, talking about also, too, like what was the, I don't know, like the television, "Chappelle Show" and "Law and Order SVU" were pretty much huge. So Chappelle, he came here. Burruss was packed. I was on the second to last row in Burruss. And people were standing, and the fire department came and said you can't do that. So huge. And that was before, like that was the first season, so that was huge.


David: Did that show have an impact on how people talked about race on campus, in your experience?

Kimberly: At that time, with Chappelle, with black people, yes, of how we talked about it. It was kind of like being in that center, like watching that show, it was just like we would just die laughing, and just would never miss it. I don't know how white students were processing it. For black students that was was everything.

David: But for you it was like someone's talking about this.

Kimberly: Yes.

David: Like whoa, here it is.

Kimberly: It was so important. And to laugh at it. Oh, it was was so...yeah, it was so important. And to just...the quotations, spitting them out and applying them before memes were created, yeah, that was...that was important.

Ren: Anything else?

Kimberly: My favorite meal. My favorite meal at Tech.

Ren: Okay.

Kimberly: Okay, don't judge me. So it was a Cinnabon, the Chick-fil-A nuggets, and Pizza Hut breadsticks.

Ren: All from Hokie Grill.

Kimberly: Yes. When I had that metabolism. That was like great. And I could eat 73:00that and just...yes.

Ren: So before Cinnabon it was--

David: Can't do that much--

Kimberly: If I do that now, like I...

David: [unintelligible] think about it.

Kimberly: I'm not walking I'm gonna be six feet under.

David: The rescue squad.

Kimberly: Right, yeah. Stroke.

Ren: So before Cinnabon it was Carville ice cream, right? Carville ice cream. Do you--

Kimberly: Oh, no.

Ren: Yeah, so when they were putting, I remember when they were putting the Cinnabon in, I was a student, and I remember walking by, and my roommate smells it, and he goes, oh, cavity.

David: [Laughs.]

Kimberly: Oh, yes.

Ren: Just from the smell.

Kimberly: So good. So good. Yes.

Ren: But, you know, just thank you so much--

Kimberly: Of course.

Ren: --for sitting down with us and talking to us. I really appreciate it. So I always try to end by saying your name and class. So Kimberly Williams, class of 2008, thank you very much. I really appreciate it.

Kimberly: Thank you.

Ren: Thank you.

Kimberly: Thank you for your time listening to my little meanderings, my ramblings in store.

Ren: We loved it. It was great. Thank you very much.

David: Thank you.

Kimberly: Thank you.