People Like Me: Miya Tate

9/26/22

Louisiana State University (LSU) Child and Family Studies graduate, Miya Tate, anticipates graduating in 2024 with a Master of Social Work and Public Health. Tate is from Bogalusa, Louisiana and says, “Growing up in Bogalusa, there are not many people who choose LSU due to financial hardships and a difficult contextual environment. Since only 6% of people in Bogalusa hold a bachelor’s degree, attending LSU truly seemed like an ‘urban legend’”. Deciding to attend LSU was Tate’s effort to break that stigma and challenge herself to be more than just a statistic. Tate earned all A's in high school and set her goals on attending LSU. Her aspirations include changing the narrative back home, providing hope for future generations, and obtaining a college degree. Tate says, “Starting from the bottom does not define your destiny.”

Miya Tate and Dean Roland MitchellGrowing up, Tate did not have much besides necessities like food and shelter. In addition to Tate, her parents supported five other children as well as Tate’s grandmother. Her grandmother was supportive in the family’s efforts but could not help much financially due to earning a low wage. When Tate was in elementary school, her grandmother was murdered, which put Tate through a state of shock, confusion, and rebellion, and she did not know how to cope with these emotions. Although her family was disadvantaged, her parents continued to support her and instill hope.

In high school, Tate’s friend exposed to their entire school that Tate was a lesbian. Many of Tate’s closest friends began closing themselves off from her. A classmate once told her, “I don’t think I will ever feel comfortable changing clothes around you ever again.” Tate was devastated and felt like hiding. Her family became advocates at this time and reassured Tate that sexual orientation should not impact the achievements she made in high school. This reassurance gave Tate a newfound confidence to accept her true self from that moment on. Tate used that experience as motivation to become the best person she could be, resulting in becoming Valedictorian of Bogalusa High School and Student of the Year.

“My experience at LSU started off as a rollercoaster,” says Tate.

As an undergraduate student, she became a domestic violence victim, causing her to isolate from her peers. Furthermore, Tate developed a bleeding disorder that doctors could not explain, lasting an entire year. She also experienced homelessness for a year, causing her to graduate a year later than originally planned. She states, “I felt like a failure and thought about dropping out of LSU for good. However, I used this as a learning lesson and focused on myself for my last year of undergrad.” Tate began exercising, eating cleaner foods, and performing more self-care activities. With the assistance of Tate’s friends, family, and the LSU Emergency Support Fund, she worked through her trauma and transformed into the person people know her as today. Now, as a graduate student, Tate prioritizes self-care and check-ins with her Master of Social Work (MSW) cohort so that they can monitor each other's psychosocial well-being. Tate uses her experiences to inspire others in similar situations by participating in student organizations, community service, and advocacy efforts.

While working as a Residential Assistant (RA) at LSU, with the help of her supervisor, Tate discovered the Child and Family Studies (CFS) major offered by the College of Human Sciences & Education (CHSE). Tate’s experience as an RA, solidified the fact that supporting others in becoming the best version of themselves was her true calling. When Tate first started exploring CFS, she was hesitant. As an introvert, she had a preconceived notion that working with people implies public speaking and heavy social interaction. While this is true to a certain extent, the CFS program taught Tate that assisting others can be executed in many different mediums and facets: advocacy, policy writing, research, etc. With assistance from professors such as Dr. Cassandra Chaney, Dr. Pamela Monroe, and Dr. Hannah Plauche, Tate found a unique way to serve others without compromising her true self.

As a dual degree master’s candidate in Social Work and Public Health, Tate discovered through conversation with a professor that the helping profession requires the art of self-discovery and checking self-biases.

Tate says, “It goes beyond just ‘helping’ others and requires that a person look deep within themselves and gain self-awareness and insight.”

Tate chose Social Work to advocate against anti-oppressive practices to ensure that her negative experiences as a Black Queer woman would not happen to others. She also longs to spread awareness of harmful practices and educate her family and peers on ways to intervene when injustices occur. For example, Tate wants to address the increased medical disparities that take place when as individual identifies as both Black and transgender.

Tate currently serves as the Vice President of Social Workers Advocating for Equality (SWAE) and the Vice President of Social Work Student Association (SWSA). She is also a member of the Association of Black Social Workers (ABSW), Queer Students of Color (QROMA), Louisiana Trans Advocate (LSU Chapter), German Club at LSU, Black Women Graduate Collective (BWGC), and more.

During Tate’s undergraduate studies, she served as secretary for the Child and Family Studies Student Association and was a member of the Trio Student Support Services Program. In the future, Tate plans to continue being active in these organizations, as well as join new organizations to extend help in other sectors of LSU. Despite Tate being in numerous clubs and organizations, she earned a 4.3 GPA in her social work studies. As a graduate student, Tate hopes to conduct research that focuses on healthcare policies that affect Black and LGBTQ+ youth in various settings, as well as create evidence-based intervention strategies to increase the mental health of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities.

In her opinion, Tate’s most special achievement is creating the “Table Sit Series'' at LSU. Tate and members of the Social Workers Advocating for Equality organization advocate for a different marginalized and vulnerable population each month. Since Tate started, this series has featured a transgender table sit and a Black history month table sit. Here, Queer and Black individuals can receive resources and can discuss their experiences of being a part of a marginalized group on LSU’s campus.

“I am most proud of the fact that I know I am making my grandmother smile. She believed in my success at a time when no one else did and pushed me to become my best self,” Tate said.

"There are many motivations that are keeping me going in college!” Tate exclaims. Her professors encourage her to continue pushing through each semester and conduct weekly check-ins to gauge the mental health of their students. Tate’s social work cohort and social work sisters allow her to feel seen, and she can gain inspiration when they share their experiences with each other. Tate’s girlfriend, Amber, keeps her grounded and rational. She operates as Tate’s voice of reason when she needs it the most. Tate says that the most important thing that keeps her going is making her family and the City of Bogalusa proud. She enjoys giving back to her community and believes that it has truly taken a village to get her where she is today.

Tate keeps a manifestation journal where she writes down everything she wants to accomplish. “I write the things I want to achieve and then I never look at it again. Why? Because a watched pot never boils. We must get comfortable with setting goals and being confident we will get there by living an intentional life,” says Tate. She uses different colored sticky notes that represent different moods for the week (red= angry, blue= sad, yellow= happy, etc.). Tate suggests writing down what makes you feel each of these emotions and completing this activity each week. “Did the thing that made you mad on a Monday matter at the end of the week? If it no longer upsets you, rip the sticky note up!” Tate uses selfcare to alleviate anger and believes that you should allow yourself to feel emotions, but never let it define you for too long. Tate’s last tip is to find a mentor on campus. Her mentor has helped her get through many silent battles and alleviated frustrations stemming from both school and her personal life. In addition to a mentor, she also recommends finding your “tribe” on campus, as this will allow you to never feel as though you are going through things alone.

Tate would tell her younger self that life is not a linear path, but a maze that may require you to start from the beginning over and over. “There are many twists and dead ends that you will hit before finally making a breakthrough. Do not get discouraged, and follow the process because in the end, there will be a unique path made just for you.”

“Never say that you can’t do something or that something seems impossible, or that something can’t be done, no matter how discouraging or harrowing it may be. Master yourself and become Queen of the World around you. Let no odds, chastisement, expire, doubt, fear, or ANY mental virus prevent you from accomplishing your dreams. Never be a victim of life; be its conqueror.”- Mike Norton

“In social work, we often talk about operating from a strength perspective,” Tate says. “Discover your gifts and strengths and use them to tackle what you think are weaknesses.”

You can connect the Office of Diversity, Inclusion & Civic Engagement at CHSEoutreach@lsu.edu or 225-578-5625 for additional resources.


About People Like Me

The Office of Diversity, Inclusion & Civic Engagement designed the People Like Me series to highlight achievements and success of underrepresented individuals who have experienced challenges or obstacles in their lives yet have achieved success in their endeavors. We want to disseminate these amazing testimonies in an effort to inspire others who have similar circumstances. 

If you know someone you would like to nominate for our People Like Me initiative, please fill out the nomination form or email chseoutreach@lsu.edu.