Reciprocating Kindness through Service: An OU Interview with Relando: part 6

“It’s so good to have the opportunity to help others as others have helped you.” –Unknown Author

This is the sixth post of a 7 part series in which I expand on some of my responses to questions from a recent news interview I had about my experiences with working to build more inclusive communities as a student at Oakland University and beyond.

Did you have any mentors or heroes that inspired you along the way?

I will always give honor to my parents whose love and support has sustained me in so many ways.   I know that they are proud of me, and their pride which is so deeply rooted in love, is also rooted in the pages of history.

As I listen to their stories about times past, I can hear that they are happy to see that I have overcome some challenges that they would not have been able to overcome as easily when they were my age. However, as I can see elements of today that are so similar to years not long gone by, I understand that there is still much to be done.

In terms of those who have mentored me along the way during my journey at Oakland University, I have many people to thank. Some have gone on; choosing other career paths or to other departments or universities, while others are still at their posts encouraging and inspiring other students just as they were when I first set foot on Oakland’s campus. While I do not mention any specific names here, these are individuals who have taught me, worked with me, believed in me, written letters of recommendation, hired me, given me opportunities to challenge myself and grow, and so many other gifts, many of which are intangible that have helped me to develop in a positive way. Here I recognize people within these departments in no particular order:

The Center for Multicultural Initiatives

The Social Work Program at Oakland University

The Department of Pre-College Programs

Department of Campus Recreation

University Housing

Admissions and Orientation

Dean of Students’ Office

To these individuals I say this: If you come across this article and you know me, know that I remain very appreciative of the experiences we’ve had, that I was honored to have learned from you or served with you in some way, and that I’m reciprocating your kindness by helping others as you have helped me.

Grace & Peace,

From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins, MSW



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I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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