Thriving in St. Louis with Joshua McKenzie

February 5, 2021 — Projects & Programs

Joshua McKenzie tells us about his experience as a University student attending Maryville University of St. Louis and the opportunities available in his city. 

An Interview with Joshua McKenzie

What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a student living in St. Louis?

I would definitely say one of the biggest challenges I face as a male student in St. Louis. Well first of all, well, I’m a black male student. So that is a challenge in his own, but I would definitely say when I talk to people, and they will ask me what high school did I graduate from? And I tell them that I graduated from Vashon. And people know Vashon as being part of one of those inner city schools inside the city. And, a lot of the feedback based off of like the energy after I say that, it more so gives me like, oh, how could, me, someone from Vashon, like coming from that environment be able to come in spaces like this. And not only can I survive in these spaces like thrive, like I can do just as well. I can do the same amount of work and probably even better work than them. And I feel like that is prejudgment after people realize that, oh, I ain’t come from a fancy private school or a fancy public school in the county, inside the other areas of St. Louis, just to make it here. So I feel like after I tell people I came from Vashon that they would prejudge me based off of that. So I would definitely say those are one of the experiences I face besides being a black male in St. Louis.

How does your experience in St. Louis differ from other American cities?

I would say my experience in St. Louis is different from any other city I have visited because St. Louis to me is very small. Everybody knows everybody. And that’s what I like about St. Louis because it’s easier for you to network and connect. Because St. Louis do have an endless amount of opportunity for people to grow in. And with everybody knowing everybody, people can either know you for a good reason or a bad reason. And it’s just all about how you conduct yourself in public spaces. So I would say that’s different between the cities I have visited, more so the popular cities, because in New York everybody is just like on the go. But in St. Louis it’s more so, oh, I have time to like actually slow down and get to know you, and connect with you and talk with you. And so that’s what I definitely say, we are more so small, we connected. You actually got to be here to actually know what’s going on in St. Louis. You just can’t hear about it on the news and think you know what is actually happened here.

What do you find most inspiring about your city?

And what I find inspiring about my city is that we are known for a lot of things like whether it’s bad or good. And people just don’t know we have a lot more good in our city than we do the bad. We got the best Chinese food, we got a free zoo. We can discuss our baseball team, our hockey team. And in my opinion, St. Louis just has that gem that like, you don’t know what it is, but St. Louis give you that feeling like, oh, you can actually thrive here, you can be something, you can do something. And that’s what I find inspiring about my city that it keeps me motivated and it keep you pushing. Thank you.

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