Robyn CrutchfieldView Content
When students start at UIS, they don’t know what those next four years will be like. By graduation day, they have advice to give, stories to tell, and memories to share.
Robyn Crutchfield’s first memory of UIS is of her parents driving off, leaving her alone in her room—her roommate hadn’t arrived yet—feeling scared out of her mind.
“I was scared of being away from all my friends,” she says. “Being out of my comfort zone and having to meet all these new people”.
But her roommate arrived and she adjusted. Actually, she thrived at UIS. Becoming involved in the LGBTQ community. Becoming president of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Becoming homecoming queen in her senior year. Becoming commencement speaker for her graduating class. She found community here.
Her high school journey was quite different. “I was not very accepted as being part of the LGBTQ community in high school,” she explains. “It was really hard for me coming out. I didn’t intentionally come out. My friends found out and then, whoa. I was ‘That Girl.’”
When she first arrived at UIS, she was not at all interested in being involved with the LGBTQA Resource Center because of her high school experience. Then she started meeting people who were involved in it, and developing friendships with them. She took the peer education course the resource center offers and became a peer educator, visiting classrooms and talking to students who may not have experience with the LGBTQ community.
She learned to accept and love who she is, and she says her family has embraced her a lot more since she’s been in college.
“Now my family is really excited about everything I’m doing. They want to be involved in the LGBTQ community. They want to be supportive,” she says. “I told my family I’m a feminist and they’re like, oh, no. What did you go to college and do,” she laughs. “But now I explain things to them and they’re like, ‘oh, wow. This is really awesome.’”
She credits college with helping her to look at herself and her beliefs critically, and to recognize her flaws and biases.
“Being involved in so many things where my ideas and opinions and values are challenged everyday has been awesome,” she says. “And now I use that and I go and challenge my family, and I go and challenge my friends, and I challenge anybody walking down the street, so I think that’s been a very good way for me to grow.”
Robyn was selected as her class’ commencement speaker; a goal she has had since freshmen year. “It’s an honor,” she says. Her speech was filled with beautiful sentiments, as she instructed her classmates to LIVE—love, inspire, vocalize, and experience.