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Titan Ambassador Reflects on Navigating an Unfamiliar Landscape

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“Feeling like an imposter, I was ready to pack up and go home after one semester.”

— Robert E. Black III, human services major

My Cal State Fullerton journey started in the fall of 2014.

My college options were limited. You see, I come from a single-parent household with two younger sisters and my grandfather, who is blind, which meant I could only be so far away from my family.

Coming here as a freshman from Victorville, I was entering a world and a culture that was foreign to me. More than half of my high school was made up of children from families at or below the poverty line.

As a first-generation black male from a lower socioeconomic family, adjusting to the more affluent climate of Orange County was difficult. I had no friends or family in the area to lean on.

I could not afford the necessary textbooks for my first semester since I only had enough money from financial aid to cover my tuition and housing expenses. That first year, I lived in the residence halls, and I was so uncomfortable and untrusting that I did not reach out for help. In my first semester, I failed two classes.

Feeling like an imposter, I was ready to pack up and go home after one semester.

What saved me was my campus involvement. I started getting in touch with my faith and attended club meetings with HEAT campus ministries.

From there, I made my first real friends, and they gave me the confidence to persevere.

My community grew when I started working on campus as a Titan Ambassador. And it was at this time that I started saying, “I am Cal State Fullerton.”

Robert E. Black III is a human services major. He plans to work as a counselor after graduation.