Meet Shantanea Walker
Year: Junior | Major: Exercise Physiology | Hometown: Columbus, GA
If you could share an afternoon with anyone, who would it be and why?
“I would love to meet Fannie Lou Hammer, Daisy Bates, and any of the old original feminists who started pushing things. I would love to just have a conversation about the hardships they had to go through but also the fire that they had for it.”
What do you feel like your role is as a feminist in the world today? What are the things you’re pushing for?
“One of my main things is equality within women. I think that’s where it starts. We can’t expect men or other people to want to make us their equals when we as women tear each other down every chance that we get. Not saying that I don’t do it because I do it from time to time, but I like to do a reality check and just say, ‘Ok, her winning doesn’t decrease my success, and my success doesn’t have to decrease hers.’”
Is there a saying or quote that you like to live by?
“My favorite quote is by Nelson Mandela, and it is, ‘Lead from the back, and let others believe they’re in the front.’ I like that quote a lot because I think that all too often we don’t give our praises to those in the background, who are really the foundation for events or things like that. I’m also the type of person who doesn’t like the attention to be on me for long periods of time. My face gets red and I get all flustered. But I really like to be involved. I love to do different things on campus, but if I could be in the background working, that’s more of my comfort zone. One thing I love about VSU is that I have the opportunity to get a little bit of both. I’ve been in the forefront, and now I’m in the background.”
If you could do anything with your life, and you knew that you could not fail and that money was no object, what would you do and why?
“Oh that’s easy. I would be a performer. I sing all day, every day, and I don’t have the talent. If I knew that I could make music and it would be 100 percent successful, I would travel across the world and sing my heart out.”
Who is your favorite band or artist?
“I go through these different phases where I have favorite artists over time. So right now, Tori Kelly just dropped a gospel album, and it is the most beautiful album I’ve ever heard. I would definitely say she’s my favorite female artist right now.”
What is your most memorable experience at VSU?
“My most memorable experience at VSU would probably be the pageant I won in the spring. I am the Delta Phi Chapter of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Incorporated’s 2018 Miss Class and Culture. Prior to it, I would have not done a pageant. On the surface, when I didn’t know more about pageants, I didn’t like what they stood for. I thought it was just us focusing on beauty and the correct body size and not the correct body size.”
“It was very nerve-racking, but I’m proud of myself because it taught me discipline and it definitely helped my confidence. I learned to walk with my head held high versus always looking at the ground. I grew as a person, and then I just so happened to have won and now I have a family with Iota and that’s great.”
If you could talk to your freshman self, what would you say?
“I would definitely say to calm down. I have a lot of bad anxiety. I worry about things a lot, even though, not to brag or anything, I’m very successful in what I do. I tend to worry about exams. I worry about events being successful. So I would tell myself then to start building in traits that would lower my anxiety so that I would have them now at 21 years old when I’m trying to figure out how to not stress about every little detail. I would definitely tell her you’re going to do great. You’re going to succeed. Just calm down.”
What is something you’re super passionate about?
“I am an exercise physiology major and an African-American studies minor. Prior to college, I was very good in history. I could spit out dates and facts. When I got to college and became an AFAM minor, I learned more African-American history that I wasn’t taught in high school. Something that kind of ignited a fire in me was that we aren’t taught that. Why aren’t we taught what African-Americans contributed to America, other than slavery? Becoming an AFAM minor and meeting with other AFAM minors, I’ve grown this passion for seeing other African-Americans, male or female, succeed and helping them to find their voice and to know their history. That’s something that I’m going to make sure my children know because I didn’t like the fact that I was 19 years old before I learned about certain aspects that African-Americans played a role in when forming America.”
For people who haven’t had that education in African-American history that you had, what would you want them to know?
“That African-American history does not start with slavery, contrary to what you are taught for years and through K-12. We originate from kings and queens. Our lineage starts in successful civilizations that we might not have known about, that we can still know about. So that would be where I start because I think that plays a huge role in the mentality of African-Americans today…like ‘Oh, well my ancestors struggled, so I’m going to struggle.’ No, we originated from somewhere extremely, extremely powerful that we built ourselves. And if you have that mindset, you can’t be defeated. There’s nothing that this world can say to you that will defeat you.”