Friday, October 29, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
|He can be himself, sometimes. At the Eastern Washington community college where he co-founded|| |
“She threw something at me and chased me out of the house, screaming."
Other times, concealment is required. He learned that lesson as a teenager, when his father and stepmother threw him out. That’s why he doesn’t want his real name used here. “Prospective employers will no doubt use Google to screen applicants,” he said.
Brandon, as we’ll call him, was 17 when he wrote what he calls a “compromising poem.” His stepmother found it and spent a week mocking him with crude homophobic jokes. Then she decided he was no longer part of the family.
“She threw something at me and chased me out of the house, screaming. I’m a big guy, 6 foot 3, 170 pounds, but my stepmother was a large woman and full of anger. I was disowned and unwanted simply because of who I am.”
Brandon ended up in a cockroach-infested apartment, so afraid of the insects that he slept with the lights on.
He’s 27 now. He said he doesn’t dwell on the past.
More... “I couldn’t care less about the whole debacle,” Brandon said. “My stepmother's years of verbal and emotional abuse, coupled with my father's fearful acceptance of her repulsive conduct, made my life unpleasant for years before they knew I was gay. I am glad to be rid of them. I wouldn't want it any other way.”
Brandon stayed in Eastern Washington, where he works as a clerk, and is finishing his bachelor’s degree in humanities with a minor in management information systems through WSU Online.
“The goal of some online programs is to accumulate students to maximize the federal funding they receive, with scant regard to the quality of the education or even whether or not a student graduates,” he said. “I wanted a respected school based out of an existing campus program, and that is what WSU Online represents.”
Brandon has a 3.77 GPA and will graduate next spring. Helping him reach his goal – and move on with his life – is WSU Online’s student government, which awarded him a $2,000 scholarship for the 2010-11 academic year.
“My scholarship has made it possible for me to complete my bachelor's degree this year,” he said. “I am not sure what I would have done without it.”
Brandon’s past experience with scholarships was as a donor, not a recipient. At his community college, he gave $1,000 in cash and possessions and started a computer repair clinic to contribute to a scholarship in honor of a friend who died at 22 of heart failure after a short illness. He also persuaded Elton John to dedicate a song to his friend.
“I wrote Elton John a heartfelt letter to his Peachtree Road residence in Atlanta,” Brandon said. “I had never written to him or any celebrity before.” Brandon combined video of the introduction with different versions of the song, added a montage of still photos of his friend, and posted the tributes on YouTube.
”It remains very shocking that someone so vivacious and with so many plans could die so suddenly,” Brandon said. “There is no good explanation as to why or how it happened.”
In truth, there is a good explanation for how it happened. It’s the “why” that’s impossible to answer, much like all the “whys” Brandon has had to face.
But sometimes cruelty can inspire kindness. Just before Brandon’s stepmother threw him out, she called his mother, who lives in Iowa. She told his mother that Brandon was gay, “as if it were the worst, most loathsome thing that could ever befall someone.” Then she handed Brandon the phone.
“My mom asked me if it were true,” Brandon said. “When I admitted it was, she said, to paraphrase her, ‘That's OK. It doesn’t matter.’ My being gay has probably brought me closer to my mom. I can tell her anything, no matter how personal. She doesn't judge me.”
Monday, October 11, 2010
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Over the summer, Starbucks began offering free Wi-Fi at its stores, letting WSU Online students pursue their studies in a fully caffeinated frame of mind.
Now FedEx/Kinko’s is following suit. About 1,000 stores nationwide have started offering free Wi-Fi, with another 600 or so due to join by the end of the month. The FedEx stores include Kinko’s sites, which FedEx recently took over.
Friday, October 1, 2010
New edition of the CyberCoug: ASWSU Online student newspaper reports that Cougars frolic in the alleys during bowling get-together in Pullman.
Security alert: If you get an email saying, “(Your) E-mail Box has reached its maximum limit of 20 GB," don't take the bait, WSU computer expert says in the Daily Evergreen.
WSU Online's Lenore Chambers says she's seeing a different scam: "The WSU Online e-mail box gets several of these every day," she says. "There's no subject line, just a Web link in the body of the e-mail. Don't click the link. Someone did and she ended up sending an offensive Web link to everyone she ever wrote to and then was unable to change her password."
If you run into trouble, try WSU's Student Help Desk. In the meantime, don't click on any suspicious links, and be wary of revealing personal info.