Appalachian students can find success through their ingenuity


Lindsey Browning

By Lindsey Browning, Contributing Writer

Appalachia is deep-rooted in tradition and history. The people of Appalachia have a unique culture that is a blend of European, Native American and African cultures. Much of our lives are centered around family and the small communities we live in nestled in hollows and valleys. As a resident of the Tri-City area of Harlan County, I have been exposed to a wide array of cultures and customs ranging from Hungarian to Italian. My community is a melting pot of ethnicities due to the mining industry of the area and the many people from around the world who came here to live. 
As a future student at a university, I will bring diversity through ingenuity. Most of my fellow students will be from an area where opportunity is plentiful and materials can be purchased within minutes of their home. In Appalachia, people are taught to work with what they have, or learn to create it. Through isolation comes creativity, and I believe that children from this area are more imaginative and are forced to “think out of the box.” 
As an Appalachian American, I bring with me an oral history told to me by my elders that instill pride of who I am and where I come from. I have been taught by my parents and grandparents the sacrifices and commitments made in order to survive and thrive in the mountains. I have the traditions of home cooking, gardening and preserving that I can use and show others. I have the work ethic and discipline that only people from southeastern Kentucky can understand at such a young age.  
I bring with me the cruel fact that I come from one of the most impoverished places in the country and one of the most exploited cultures. Through education and intelligence, I hope to dispel some of the misleading stereotypes that often are attached to people of Appalachia. I will bring diversity through a beautiful accent descended from old English. I hope to be an example that people with my accent are not backward or uneducated. I will use my accent with an advanced vocabulary, intelligence, and dignity.  
Furthermore, I will bring diversity through the rich and plentiful history of Appalachia that is rarely discussed or taught. I have the wisdom of my motivated ancestors that braved the mountains and rivers to settle in Harlan County. I hope to tell all who will listen that I come from industrious people who sewed everything wore. They made everything from scratch, built houses from the ground up, and all the while created beautiful music with their banjos and harpsicords.  
I will bring diversity to the campus I attend because I am not considered the norm. Many people do not think that residents of my area attend college, nor excel at it. I plan to show everyone that with diversity comes success and that I will use my background and culture to my advantage rather than consider it a detriment. I will be an example of a strong, educated Appalachian woman who has no boundaries as to what she can accomplish.