Identify Illinois Spotlight
Identify Illinois is the DIA-branch of Inclusive Illinois, an organization dedicated to the University's commitment to cultivating a community at Illinois where everyone is welcomed, celebrated, and respected. Through education, engagement, and excellence, each voice creates the Inclusive Illinois Experience.
Q: You are a native of Atlanta, Georgia. What made the University of Illinois your collegiate choice?
I chose to come to the University of Illinois, because it was ranked academically and had the family environment that I felt was unmatched.
Q: You were the 2013 NCAA Vault Champion as a freshman and you own the school-record (15.550) in the event. Did you expect such immediate success?
I did not expect such immediate success. I just came in trying to prove my spot on the team and in doing so the success came with it.
Q: You recently came out as the first open and active gay student-athlete at the University of Illinois. The support from your coaches and teammates has been documented. What helped you feel comfortable about sharing your story?
Having the general support from everyone around me helped me feel comfortable. I was able to feel confident and comfortable with myself; with that it gave me the courage to share my story to hopefully help someone else.
Q: In general, what advice would you give to other student-athletes in the collegiate world who feel like they cannot open up about their sexuality or do not feel comfortable speaking up?
My advice would be for them to find acceptance and comfort in themselves first. I felt it was much easier telling people and taking in their response when I was more comfortable with my sexuality to myself.
Q: With a senior season still to go, what goals do you have for yourself before your collegiate career ends?
I would love to add a team title in both the Big Ten and NCAA to my resume. I feel that would be a great way to end my gymnastics career.
Q: What is one fun fact about yourself that most people do not know?
I come from Creole ancestry, which is a mix of Native American, French, and African American.
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