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The Selfie Slam: Reflections of You

Summer 2018

In December, TU held its first “Selfie Slam: Reflections of You,” an event to allow students and staff to learn from each other through personal “This I Believe” statements that they shared with each other publicly. It was an event, coordinated by Professor Nicholas Reinhard, with the support of the Celebrating Cultural Uniqueness (CCU) committee. The event is something TU wishes to continue annually, an event of lived experiences and reflections. For more information about Tiffin University’s CCU Initiative, visit

Below are a few stories by students who agreed to share:


Kody Doss

Grand Rapids, Mich.

Graduated: 2018

Major: Managerial studies

I believe in hope. Hope is a feeling that something will happen with little to no evidence of it happening in the first place. When I was born, I was born dead and revived, and I was hospitalized for the first six months of my life. During that period, I proceeded to die two more times and the only thing my family could do was hope, and so I believe in hope.

Growing up, I went from home to home, school to school and family to family. My parents divorced when I was three years old and I grew up without a father. My mother had been married and divorced multiple times and, in the process, turned to alcohol as a means to cope. My brother, Kyle, and I dealt with all of this alone. I grew up never having a full family, but over the course of my life, I came to realize that blood does not make you family. I’ve always believed that one day, I would be a part of a full family and find what true love really was—so I believe in hope.

During my childhood, I hoped to find a true friend that I could call a best friend forever. I lived in seven different houses and went to seven different schools before I turned 13 years old. Every time I made a friend, I ended up moving away, so what was the point of trying to make friends? I eventually gave up, but I believed I could do better, and I hoped we would find a place we could truly call home and not have to worry about moving away. Finally, at the age of 13, I went to my first school that I did not have to worry about leaving and I had an opportunity to find true friends and I ended up proposing to one of those friends.

Growing up, I wanted to go to college that was far away from the place that I had called home. I was not the smartest kid on the block, so I turned my attention to sports and I hoped that I would one day be good enough to get a college scholarship. I believed that anything was possible and I believed in hope.

No one in my family had ever gone to college and they all thought college was useless, except for my grandparents, who pushed me to put in the time, effort and dedication towards my sports career. It ended up being worth it, because Tiffin University gave me a chance and offered me a scholarship which changed my life forever, and it all started with a little bit of hope.

No one in the world wants to be alone and I hoped that one day I would find someone who accepted me for my past, helped me fight my demons, not judge me for the family that I came from and wanted to create a better future for the both of us. I ended up finding that person who only wants the best for me. I hoped for a relationship and life better than my parents. I hoped that no one would ever feel or go through what my brother and I went through growing up, and she helped me every step of the way. I hope that everyone in the world finds someone who will love them day and night for who they are. I believe that this is all possible, because I believe in hope.


Nicholas R. Wheeler

Mansfield, Ohio

Expected Graduation: 2019

Major: Sports management

I believe in finding fun in absolutely everything in life, no matter how serious or critical the situation. It may seem very insensitive because of all of the struggles and conflicts life hands you, but I have always been motivated to block out the bad and focus on the good.

Life is a very intriguing and complex game, and a GAME is EXACTLY what it is. The moment you take something too serious, whether it is or not, is the moment that you start to lose in this game. Trials and tribulations in this game can be dealt with in many different ways including headaches, anger, fighting and depression, but you must ask yourself why? Why do that to yourself when you can laugh about it? So much time is spent on worrying about the things you cannot control in life, so why not spend that time picking what you want to laugh about instead? Everybody has a purpose in life and I am certain of mine—bring light to people’s lives through fun and laughter.

Being in the military, there is an expectation of seriousness and boy, do I love going against that stereotype, and don’t get me wrong … when the uniform is on, I take on an extreme amount of pride and know it isn’t a game. I will never forget about the times in basic training when I, and the other 49 airmen, were in formation in our barracks. The MTI’s (Military Training Instructors) would walk to each one of us and get in our face and tear us apart for no reason, and when I was far enough away from the MTI’s, I would do something crazy and goofy to try and make the other airmen laugh in front of the MTI so they would get yelled at. Not many people can find the joy and comedy out of such an experience, but I believe it is my God-given talent.

I recall many times where I got in trouble for making people laugh when they were down or depressed, even in high school. I would rather take 100 detentions instead of seeing someone down and not doing anything about it. Did I get in trouble at home? Yes, absolutely, over and over again, but my thoughts about life are just different. I found the fun in life at a young age.


Nickolai De Robles

Montreal, Canada

Expected Graduation: 2021

Major: International business & finance

My friend was in a restaurant/bar late one night, hanging out with his friends and suddenly one of them suggested that we all go skydiving the following day and everyone agreed. Once my friend got back to his house, he realized that he actually committed to jumping out of an airplane. He spent his entire night looking at the ceiling; he was so terrified of what might happen that he forgot to sleep. The morning came, and he was so nervous, he could not eat. Later in the day, he joined his friends at the rendezvous location, hoping that his friends forgot their agreement, but everyone showed up. On their way to the safety briefing, my friend was the only person speechless and terrified—everyone else appeared to be very enthusiastic to jump. Once they were done with the briefing and preparing to get to the plane, the truth started to surface. Apparently, none of them slept the night before and all of them were completely terrified to follow through, but it was too late to turn around.

Inside of the plane, right next to the door, there is a traffic light and I realized that at any moment, the light is going to turn green and someone will open the door. My friend realized he had never been in an airplane with an open door. The man assisting him took him to the door and instructed him to put his feet on the edge of the plane. To quote my friends words, “My heart started pounding and my forehead became a waterfall. The man behind me says ‘on three we jump,’ but he lied—we jumped on two. The first second was the longest second of my life, but then suddenly, the wind was holding me and at that moment, I realized that the point of extreme danger is the point of minimum fear.”

Why is it that we are the least afraid when the situation is the most dangerous? Because I believe that fear is holding us back, but once you get over the hump, it will be one of the most amazing things you will ever experience in your life. Fear is the reason most people will not achieve who they are meant to be. I believe a lot of things; some are more important than others, but I believe every one of us needs to have a daily confrontation and it should be with fear. I believe in confronting our fears.


Emily Bogner

Clyde, Ohio

Expected Graduation: 2020

Major: Middle childhood

Education I believe in perseverance and that everything happens for a reason. I believe in living to the fullest with no regrets. I also believe that progress is made through struggles. While I was growing up, I wanted to understand why my grandfather on my mother’s side had to die nine days after my birth and was only allowed to hold me once. I have been told he was a great guy and that he believed in me even though he never got to know me. I have been told that people see him through me.

I wanted to know why I was left with my grandfather on my father’s side—a man who never believed in any of my goals or anything that I chose to do. As I was growing up, two other cousins were born, and as they grew, I was envious of their relationship with this grandfather who did not believe in me. He showed lots of love and care towards them. He always believed in whatever they wanted to do. He even told them they could do whatever they wanted to do. He always told me I wouldn’t get anywhere in life and that I would never make it in college. He said I could not succeed in school because of my learning disabilities. Well, I proved him wrong!

Now that I have had academic success, this grandfather has tried to reach out to me and participate in my life. I ask myself, “Why should I allow him in my life when he never wanted me in his?” In the back of my mind, I have always wanted that love and care from him, but I have purposely distanced myself from him so that I don’t have to make that decision right now. I know I am protecting myself because I do not want to hurt all over again, because of him.

At the end of every day, I think about how life would be different if my grandfather on my mother’s side was still alive and I think about what kind of person I would be if I grew up with his influence and love. I look into the mirror and the truth of my tattoos come to mind. “Without struggle there will be no progress.”

I know that everything I have been through in my life has made me a stronger and a better person. While one grandfather was trying to break me, the other was protecting me from up above. Even though I didn’t grow up with my grandfather on my mom’s side here on earth, he still had an influence on my life. “As long as there is someone in the sky to protect me, there is no one on earth who can break me.”


Brian Miller

Columbus, Ohio

Expected Graduation: 2019

Double major: Homeland security/terrorism and forensic psychology

Freedom has rung and segregation has been lifted, but these questions haunt me: Is this really the Promised Land? Are we truly equal? Are the chains of oppression and injustice really broken? Why are men of my skin color still being persecuted and murdered in the open as if Black Lives do not matter? Why are the prisons filled with men that look and come from the same neighborhood as I do? Why does freedom feel like a cage? Why is the number of African Americans in chains larger than there are in suits? Why are African Americans still economically among the poorest minority in this country? Why did our wealth turn into ashes?

Why is a young man, that looks just like me, only aspiring to be an athlete, rapper or a drug dealer, as if this is the only way we can succeed? Yes, we can now sit at the table of brotherhood with sons of former slave owners, but we are forced to sit, chained, watching them feast. Then the sons of former slave owners look over and see the starvation on our face and say, “look how far you’ve come?” As if being more than 3/5ths of a human is a privilege and not our natural right!

Yes, Dr. King’s dream came true, but it is time for a new dream. A dream where there is a Black Wall St. in every state, a dream where 56% of CEO’s represent men and woman like me, a dream where kids of color have ambitions to become doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs and engineers. A dream where we are not persecuted, but protected. A dream where our assets and buildings are not bombed, but collaborated with. A dream of economic freedom!

King moved the mountains when he unleashed his words. The Holy Bible states in Matthew 17:20, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this a mountain… Move from here to there, and it will move, nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20, New International Version).

I believe one day sons of former slaves and former slave owners will not only sit down at the table of brotherhood together, but will have the capability to break bread equally as well. I believe that real freedom will come … economic freedom. I believe that white picket fences will go across every community in America and all of God’s children will be prosperous. I believe in economic equality!


Emily Keill

Allentown, Pa.

Expected Graduation: 2019

Major: Forensic psychology

I believe in being the bigger person. I am the oldest of three girls, and sometimes we don’t always see eye to eye. Growing up, my younger sisters and I would fight and argue over anything and everything. My mom was constantly nagging us about loving and respecting each other. One thing my mom would always say is, “Be the bigger person.”

Years ago, I remember my sister and I each saved up money to purchase a toy from the toy store. When I got to the store, I found the doll clothes I wanted for my American Girl Doll and my sister found the Polly Pocket set she had always wanted. Unfortunately, my sister ended up not having enough money for her toy, but I had a few extra dollars. I had the choice to either buy another toy or give my sister the leftover money. I wanted to be greedy and buy more toys, but my mom told me I need to think about other people and once again reminded me to be the bigger person. I made the choice to give my sister the extra money she needed, and she was thankful. Seeing my sister so excited made me realize that it’s important to step up and help others in any simple way possible.

Being reminded of being the bigger person not only helped me become closer with my sisters, but it also helped me throughout my entire life. Recently, my best friend and I got into a huge fight and we both stopped talking to each other for over a week. Instead of blaming her for everything and ignoring her, I took responsibility for my actions, apologized and helped mend our relationship. By being the bigger person, I have learned patience, forgiveness, thankfulness and success. I have gained the patience I’ve needed to work together as a team in school, sports and in my jobs. I have learned to let go of the small things and focus on the importance of family and friendship. In the future, I plan to use this lesson every day to help others and in the process I will gain personal development. I plan to always remember to be the bigger person as I take on the world.