My name is Mone’t Alberts. I am a student at Boise State in Biomedical Tissue Engineering, and I grew up in Boise, Idaho.
I went to elementary, middle, high school and eventually college, all in Idaho. I am African-American and female and I did have a lot of experiences at a younger age that definitely made me feel awful.
When I was in elementary school, there was a boy who would constantly call me and my brother the N-word on the playground and I would tell on him and I would just be told to ignore it. That was my first sort of experience with what it was like growing up in a place that wasn't so diverse.
My junior year of high school, I was at the gas station by Nampa High School right across the street, and I was with my boyfriend at the time who was white. And these two grown men pulled up and started screaming profanities at me as he was walking inside to pay for the gas. We were 15 and 16 years old and they were screaming profanities at me, calling me the N-word, cotton picker, everything you could think of – I was sitting in the truck, so they were screaming the stuff at me from a pump across the way. No one was doing anything.
My boyfriend walked outside from the gas station and they jumped him, a 16-year-old boy. Two grown men beat him to the point where he had brain damage because of it. I ended up having to go to court for that and they didn't deem it as a hate crime. So the men who beat him got assault charges and went to jail for a year or so and are no longer in jail.
So, all of this stuff happened to me within a 50-mile radius of where I grew up here, and I just want people to know that Idaho, it is a great place, but stuff like that does happen and it made me realize that it probably hasn't only happened to me. I am constantly told all the time that racism doesn't exist here, that everyone has the same opportunities, but they don't. And it's important to me because of everything that's happened in my life to bridge that gap, I guess, between what people think to be true and what is actually going on here.
When COVID started, I started getting bombarded with emails about the Hometown Challenge and it was mostly something for students to do that could help them if they had lost their summer internship – a way for them to gain a scholarship and do something they're passionate about.
I applied with my portfolio setting up a program for minority students. I just knew that it was important to me in this area where I grew up that students have the opportunity to learn about them and higher education from the lens of a college student who is a first-generation college student and also a minority student.
I ended up trying to reach out to teachers and schools around the area about my program and how I'm gearing it towards minority students, first generation college students. I started with trying to create a website just for people to have this information, and I thought I could just hand this information off to teachers in the area that could give it to their students.
But no one wanted to do that. Mostly it was just either short responses of no or responses of I'm not allowed to do that, or responses of maybe you should reach out to someone else. I felt really bad when I first found out that no one really wanted to participate in this because I was so excited about it. And I thought this is such a great opportunity for students because I didn't have this and I would have jumped at the opportunity.
So I completely switched gears and decided to make an Instagram page that minority students can go to if they have questions and are there to answer them or don't even know what questions they would have. And I'm going to be posting internship opportunities, scholarship opportunities and organizations that can be joined.
I'm just trying to help people that might have experienced what I have experienced in school who are just trying to obtain a higher education as a minority student.
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We Are Idaho features Idahoans from all walks of life telling their stories of living here in their own words.