Navigating Through Hardships

Have you ever slipped into a week of sadness? You feel like everything is annoying and nothing is going right? If no, I am happy for you and I encourage you to continue reading. If yes, let’s work through these hardships.

Recently I fell into one of those moods. Where you wake up, and go about your day not really feeling anything or being present. Part of me just wanted to wallow. But luckily, one morning I woke up and thought, girl you need to grow the hell up and figure this out!

First, I tried to figure out who or what was putting me in a bad mood. Honestly, I could not pinpoint exactly who or what it was I just knew I was unhappy. I attributed my “off mood” to being overwhelmed with plans after graduation, my current living situation, and relationships. Okay great! Now I know what is putting me off, that should be good right? Now I can figure out how to “fix” it. Wrong, by doing this it did help, but now I have this information and I do not know what to actually do.

I decided to focus on what I can change… and after thinking I could only really control  my performance in school. Side note – I learned you cannot control relationships. I have never tried, but that just doesn’t sound right. So, I decided to make a schedule for my classes, for reading, studying, and tried to schedule time in my work schedule. It helped but only if you actually commit to it (just like anything that requires learning).

Second, I needed to be proactive about my two other hardships. I turned to a podcast that I heard in the past entitled, The Science of HappinessI listened to the first episode called, 3 Good Things. Essentially, you take about 10 – 15 minutes to reflect on your day, and while doing that think about 3 good things that happened. Sounds easy, but it is somewhat difficult to do if you if you do not have a reminder. 

If you would like to try this, actually write down the 3 things so you can see it. By writing it down, you can read it later and when I write stuff down I tend to remember it more. From experience, I was not consistent after my mood was improved. That is okay! Because if you are happier that is the point. However, this could be a good practice to do whether you are feeling glum or having a wonderful day.

The main takeaway I realized was the importance of reflecting on the day. Sadly, it is so easy to get caught up in what is happening in the world. We forget to just breathe and take a few moments to recall what happened in our day.

Hopefully, this helps kickstart your journey to appreciation and happiness! Let’s work through these hardships. I am proud of you and I am rooting for you!

Taken from Pinterest
Written by: Jasmine Alexander

Sunflower Seeds: A European Escape

As a senior graduating in May, I decided to take advantage of my last winter break ever. One of my good friends was studying abroad for the Fall 2019 semester in England. Our winter breaks lined up, so I decided I would give myself an early graduation gift and escape to Europe! 

I was in a class when I bought my plane ticket for the trip. I would briefly talk to her from time to time to figure out the logistics of it. It turned out that we would be doing a European tour with a group of 6 other girls she knew from study abroad.


I arrived in London on December 30 to meet up with my friend. I was there just in time for New Years! We went to almost every touristy spot that you could imagine possible. I was most in awe that they drive on the opposite side of the road there since I thought it was a bit similar to America. We spent New Year’s at a club in the city and then we were off to Spain.


The start of our travels was off to a rocky start. We missed our flight to Madrid that was at 7am, and we couldn’t take another flight until 4pm. Needless to say, we wasted our first day in an airport. When we arrived, I was in awe since Madrid is absolutely beautiful. It was colorful, the food was incredible, and the sangria was very cheap there! After the two nights in Madrid, we headed to another city in Spain.

We ventured off to Valencia. Valencia was even more beautiful than Madrid in my opinion. Valencia was very warm and full of life. The food there was just as good as Madrid’s. We fueled ourselves up with paella, empanadas, and Valencia Water (Gin, Champagne, Vodka, & OJ). As you could image, we had a great time in Spain.


Our next stop was Paris, France. As a little girl I had always dreamed of going to Paris, so I was beyond excited to be heading there. When we arrived it felt just as cold as Chicago. We were all bundled up but determined to see the city since we only had two nights there. We spent a majority of our time wandering the city. Paris was so beautiful and romantic. The architecture and sounds of the city made you feel like you were the main character in a romance movie. My favorite part was seeing the Eiffel Tower. I will never forget that feeling of excitement that came over me when I saw it. Paris is a place everyone should visit.


Our last country for the trip was Italy. I couldn’t wait to see my roots since I’m 75% Italian. The first city we went to was Rome. Rome was exciting because we saw the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain. The best food I have ever had in my life was here. I ordered a pasta dish called Cacio e Pepe. It consists of cheese and pepper, but it was delicious. After our day in Rome we headed to Florence.

Florence was magnificent. The city was colorful and energetic. A few of us went to the top of the Duomo and the views were breathtaking because you could see the entire city from there. Florence felt a bit touristy since a majority of the people we met were form America. We went to a bar and all of the shots were named after university’s in America. I was able to get a “San Diego State Shot” which consisted of tequila, ginger, and lime. Florence was fun, but it was time to head to our last destination, Venice.

Venice was so peaceful. The water was clean, and the city moved slow. People lived to relax and that was just what we were doing. We took a gondola ride and ate a ton of gelato. Venice was the most relaxing city, and it was a great way to end our trip. 

Our trip consisted of laughs, lots of wine, and incredible food. I had a blast wandering around Europe with the six other girls. It was a trip I will never forget, and I hope you can experience that too. 


Written by: Nina Capuani

Five LGBTQIA+ Members to Honor During Black History Month

With Black History Month officially in the second half, and with transphobia apparent in the news of Dwayne Wade’s daughter declaring her gender identity, what time better than now to honor our queer predecessors?

Langston Hughes (1902 – 1967)

Image courtesy of ThoughtCo

Hughes is one of the most recognizable names from the Harlem Renaissance and was very private about his personal life throughout his lifetime. However, a recent analysis of Hughes’s works done by the University of Illinois – Springfield has cemented the idea that he was indeed a queer man. Scholars have indicated that both he and Walt Whitman, an influence of Hughes, included codes alluding to their queer sexuality throughout their lives.

Hughes is said to have unpublished poems written to and for a man he was in love with that he referenced as “Beauty.” He also had a traveling companion whom he spent many days with in the Caribbean named Zell Ingram who we now know to be gay, but at the time Hughes disguised him as a heterosexual man in efforts to protect them both.

The end of Hughes’s life brought more clarification to both his sexuality and identity as the long time proud Black man’s intersectional identities have now brought forth several works for LGBTQIA+ youth to feel representation through. Hughes has had the common legacy of being more recognized posthumously, but we now have even more reason to recognize the brave works of someone who battled against discrimination in various forms.

Audre Lorde (1934 – 1992)

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One of the least mentioned, yet most iconic, Black LGBTQIA+ people to ever live is Audre Lorde. She described herself as a “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” Receiving her Master’s degree from Columbia University, Lorde was an active poet since the age of 12. Her first volume of poems titled, First Cities, was published in 1968 at the age of 34 after she served as a librarian in New York public schools for several years.

A lifelong activist fighting for equality for all of her identities, Lorde’s later work showcased works more focused on protesting the powers at hand. These works include Coal (1976), and The Black Unicorn (1978). Lorde found it her moral obligation to speak for the voiceless against all odds. She notably said in one interview, “My sexuality is part and parcel of who I am, and my poetry comes from the intersection of me and my worlds… [White, arch-conservative senator] Jesse Helms’s objection to my work is not about obscenity … or even about sex. It is about revolution and change.”

Lorde is the epitome of fighting for equity and equality not just for one’s race, or gender, but for all of all varying identities. At a time when many chose to hide their sexuality in efforts of detracting from the Civil Rights or Women’s Liberation movement. Truly a warrior, Lorde serves as a role model for Zaya Wade and all other LGBTQIA+ members.

Bayard Rustin (1912 – 1987)

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Rustin served as the longtime right-hand man and adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. An openly gay man, Rustin is one of the least discussed individuals in regards to the Civil Rights Movement. The main reason for this is due to his sexuality. Due to his public sexuality, he was subject to ridicule and posed a threat to movements happening at the time. Due to this, Rustin accomplished most of his efforts behind the scenes, influencing leaders like King and Ella Baker in their strides for equality.

Rustin is most well-known for his Pacifism which he endowed upon King, thus later being a trademark of King’s protests. He served as a leader for both the March on Washington and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom though the events were over 20 years apart. A lifelong humanitarian, Rustin was aided the oppressed in several fashions throughout his life.

Though he was out most of his life, Rustin was not active speaking on behalf of the LGBTQIA+ community until the last decade of his life. It was then that he tried to make up for lost time, serving as an advocate for the queer community until his death in 1987. Rustin’s Pacifism is likely his most well-known attribute, here’s to his open sexuality being right up there in the near future.

Marsha P. Johnson (1945 – 1992)

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Now, in the wake of two celebrity parents celebrating the discovery of their trans daughter’s gender identity, we have to finish off this list with two of the most legendary Black trans women to grace this Earth.

Marsha P. Johnson is a name that has often been brought up in the news both in recognition of queer accomplishments and in the wake of hyper-transphobia in America. Johnson dedicated her life to fighting for the rights of her fellow queer youth as well as sex workers, a career that serves as one of few options for many transgender people.

Johnson is one of the most notable figures present during the 1969 Stonewall riots where she and her queer peers fought back against the injustice they had long been subjected to. Johnson would also help form Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries (STAR) along with fellow trans activist Sylvia Rivera. This organization provided homes and safety to many of the oppressed members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Johnson will long live as an icon to the queer community.

Paris Dupree (1950 – 2011)

Image courtesy of The Daily Dot

One of the most legendary House mothers of all time and one of the performers credited with the organization of the vogue, Dupree is widely known for her role in the creation of the ballroom culture that has since served as one of the few safe spaces for the LGBTQIA+ community. Her role in the ballroom scene is highlighted by her creation of categories within the competitions.

A House can be described as, “the family you get to choose,” as Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista (played by MJ Rodriguez) said in the early episodes of the FX series “Pose.” This show has helped bring ballroom culture and issues of the LGBTQIA+ community to the public eye in recent years. This is heavily due to Dupree’s lifelong work, but also her role in the documentary, “Paris is Burning” which she appeared in and notably stated, “That’s right! I said it! Butch queen! Boy in the day, girl at night.” Butch Queen was just an example of the categories that revolutionized ballroom culture in its early days.

These five individuals are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Black LGBTQIA+ people that have changed the world in their own ways. As Black History Month draws to a close, I urge you to keep the legacies of these folks in mind and do your due diligence to keep their missions for equality afloat in your everyday fight against injustice.

Written by: Alexis Camel

21 Questions: Francisco Guadalupe Velazquez

Francisco Guadalupe Velazquez Man with glasses smiling in front of tree

21 Questions is a fun way to get to know students, faculty, and staff. This week is Francisco Guadalupe Velazquez. He is the current Assistant Director of New Student and Parent Programs here at SDSU.

How do you feel about the question, “Tell us about yourself?”

“It is really open ended, but it is great, people can express themselves in regard to who they are, because often times we are told who we are, instead of us being able to share who we are.”

So, tell me about yourself?

“There are so many ways you can take this question! My name is Francisco Guadalupe Velazquez, but I also go by Frankie Velazquez. I am a SoCal native from Valley Center, North County San Diego, proud SDSU alum, and an Aztec for life. I like this question, but it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly to say. “

What is something that people usually get wrong about you?

“People think that I take myself too seriously, but it depends on the environment that I am in. At work people tend to think I am quiet, because I do not tend to speak up, but it depends on the context. But if I feel like it is a safe, brave space where I can do that, I am more likely to speak up.”

Is there anything you want people to know about you?

“It is important for people that I identify within the LGBTQ+ community. As a QPOC (queer person of color) it is important for to have faculty and staff identify in this community to represent this population. The intersectionality that does not happen as often where you see queer people in a position of power. As an assistant director I recognize I have authority to effect change in the community.”

Are you a “people person”?

“I don’t think so, but I can turn it on if needed. I know I need time to myself sometimes, so I would say I am an ambivert.”

Are you family oriented?

“That’s an interesting question, I think the idea of family I do like, but that does not always mean blood family I think you create your family so in that sense yes, I am family oriented.”

What’s on your mind today?

“At the moment work and vacation! I recently booked a vacation to Riviera Maya, Mexico, so that is my motivation.”

What brought you back to San Diego? 

“SDSU that is what really made my family. Being a student, grad student and then leaving, I knew I wanted to come back, because the connections I made. I was part of the SDSU Ambassadors and Residential Education, so those played a part in decision as well as my personal and professional growth.”

Do you have an idea of where you will be at the end of this year? 

“I have a vision of where I would like to be. 2019 has been a huge year of personal and professional growth, I hope that I am in a place of gratitude and being thankful for the journey I have been on and thankful for what I have. I am looking forward to traveling, I love to travel and travel with my partner. Our next goal is to travel somewhere whether it is a cruise or exploring Europe. I know he wants to go to Germany, so that might be on the list.”

Do you believe that struggles make you stronger?

“Yes, absolutely I think there needs to be somewhat of a struggle, because when you get to your goal or you are successful, it is so much sweeter. That is how you grow and how you become the person you ultimate want to be.”

Who are you listening to right now?

“I am listening to… let me pull up my Spotify. I listen to a lot of Spanish music reggaeton and pop — Danna Paola, Carlos Rivera, and Taylor Swift. My first concert was when I was five years old, it was a Latin pop group called Garibaldi. Some of my favorite concerts have been Ricky Martin, Lady Gaga was amazing, Mariah Carey, Demi Lovato, and Justin Timberlake.”

Do you have anyone to thank for where you are now?

“I do. So many people, I don’t know where to start. So often we go about our lives without acknowledging the team of people that support you. These are just a few people, but my advisor when I was an ambassadors Janet Castro, Kara Bauer, Dr. Avery, Randy Timm, and Christy Samarkos.” 

If you could tell your younger self something what would it be?

“You matter, because it is important to hear.”
– Frankie Velazquez
Written by: Jasmine Alexander
Photo by: Jasmine Alexander