Challenges motivate Chantel Diamond to achieve, move on

In this issue’s Spotlight, meet senior sociology major and psychology minor Chantel Diamond, who uses life’s adversities to push herself toward early graduation and on to graduate school.

Q. Where were you born and raised?
A. I was born in Brooklyn, but raised in Syracuse, the South Side. I went to Nottingham High.

Q. Why did you choose SUNY Oswego?
A. I’m a transfer. I went to SUNY Oneonta for my first year. I wanted to get, not closer to home, but around more people I knew, and my best friend goes here. So I transferred last year. I liked Oneonta, but I felt I was just so separated and so alone. I also wanted to be challenged more. I actually feel I’ve done way more here in one year.

Q. How did you choose your major and minor?
A. I love how many different topics you can go into when it comes to sociology—you can take it so many different places. Even now, I’m doing an independent research study on the sociology of relationships. I chose psychology as my minor last year because I’m interested in not only society but the individual. I wanted to focus in on different disorders. I’m big on counseling and therapeutic treatments.

Q. Why did you choose to accelerate your graduation?
A. Mostly because I just wanted to see if I could do it. I wanted to see if I was capable. It became a little tricky when I added the psychology minor, because it was a lot more work than I was used to. I actually enjoyed seeing if I could push myself to graduate a year early.

Q. Have you always enjoyed challenging yourself?
A. I felt like growing up, school was very easy for me. When things are easy, it’s just like you’re not growing. You know how to do it and you’re just doing it. When you work through something that’s really challenging, it makes you feel all that much better.

Q. What do you think of SUNY Oswego students?
A. They’re definitely different from what I was used to. It was different being around people who thought differently about every issue. So it was a lot to get used to. It’s interesting—I’m meeting people from all over. These people I’m friends with here are from the City (New York), so they have different perspectives on things.

Q. What do you think of the faculty at SUNY Oswego?
A. Honestly, I love most of the professors that I’ve had—Tim Delaney, Young Kim, William Rose, Sharity Bassett. It’s like you bond so quickly with them. It’s like they teach and learn with you. It’s discussion-based a lot of times in the classrooms, and I’ve just gotten so close to them. Pat Clark was my prof last spring for “Black Women Writers.” … I’ve gotten to know her better, because she became my mentor on my journey to grad school. She helped me with my application essays, my personal statements, she wrote a letter of recommendation for me.

Q. What are your extracurricular organizations and interests?
A. I’m president of Sociology Club and a sociology teaching assistant. I have attended meetings and events of the Black Student Union. I’m also a member of Italian American Heritage Club—my father was born in Italy. I used to be on the cheerleading team. I’m on Senior Planning Committee, planning all the senior events for the year, like our end-of-the-year barbecue, our Halfway to Grad Day and OzFest.

Q. What has been one of your challenges in life?
A. Some people who don’t really know me tend to look at me from the outside, and just from the brief encounter they have with me, they judge harshly. That’s been an ongoing theme in my life. I’m not a person people see and they automatically like. I’m more of an acquired taste. (Laughs.) When I speak up, some people feel like I’m always devil’s advocating. But I’m more like, “Let’s take everybody’s perspective.”

Q. What is motivating you to go on to graduate school?
A. Again, I just want to keep challenging myself. I’m applying to grad schools to get my master’s in psychology and eventually become a professor. That will be very challenging for me, but I’m very interested and passionate about it, so I feel like that will help me. I just decided back in April that I was going to go to grad school. Every school I applied to for undergrad, I got into. A week and a half ago, I got my first rejection letter, ever. I printed it and I’m going to frame it. It put me into the perspective, “OK, now I really want it, and now I’m really going to get it. And now I’m going to see what different grad schools I can get into.”

Q. What do you like to do in your down time?
A. I miss cheerleading a lot, but I’m getting back into going to the gym again. I’ve just started enjoying cooking since I’ve moved off campus this year. I like cooking big meals for people. I don’t like cleaning, though. (Laughs.) I enjoy just relaxing, honestly. I have a lot going on most of the time, so whenever I can get the chance to lay down and watch a movie on the computer, that’s amazing to me.

Q. Do you have a “secret passion” you can talk about?
A. It’s not a secret and it’s not considered a real talent, but I like to lip sync. I do it all day to all these songs. I wish that I could sing because I love music, but I can’t. So I just lip sync. I’m dramatic. I’m an actress. (Laughs.) It’s not a secret because people upload videos sometimes, but I don’t think they understand my passion for it.

Q. What can you tell us about your family?
A. I was raised by my mother in Syracuse. Growing up, she was very no-nonsense. We knew we had to do right for her, we knew had to be successful so she could be proud. And we wanted to make her proud. When she was proud of you, it was the greatest feeling. She’s been so proud that I’m graduating a year early, and I think that’s another reason I’ve chosen to do that. I have a sister and four older cousins my Mom adopted. They were there when I was born, so I think of them as my brothers and sisters.