S.9, E.5: The Long Jump, Classics, and Africa Night

Learning for Life @ Gustavus host Greg Kaster interviews Gustavus senior and soon-to-be graduate Tyra Banks '21.
Posted on May 4th, 2021 by

Student athlete, leader, and biology-classics double major Tyra Banks, ’21 on her Liberian background, why she chose Gustavus and added classics to her biology major, her leadership in equity and inclusion on campus, including the Pan-African Student Organization, being Black and African at Gustavus, participating in track and field, and her senior year amid COVID-19.

Season 9, Episode 5: The Long Jump, Classics, and Africa Night

Greg Kaster:

Hello and welcome to Learning for Life at Gustavus, the podcast about people teaching and learning at Gustavus Adolphus College. In a myriad ways, the Gustavus liberal arts education provides a lasting foundation for lives of fulfillment and purpose. I’m your host, Greg Kaster, faculty member in the Department of History.

Describing my guest today, one of her classmates said, “If you see Tyra out and about, there’s a 100% guarantee that she will be a light brightening other people’s day. Her ability to serve her community and build connections is admirable to say the least. I wouldn’t say she embodies the Gusty spirit as much as I would say she sets a new standard for what it means to be a Gusty. To all of which, I can only say spot on.”

Tyra Banks grew up in Liberia through age 13 and then attended high school in Minnesota and Rhode Island before enrolling at Gustavus where she is now completing her senior year. A double major in biology and classics, she is a member also of the National Classics Honor Society, Eta Sigma Phi. She is a member of the track and field team, leader of the Pan-African Student Organization or PASO. She’s past co-president of the Diversity, Education, and Exploration Project or DEEP at Gustavus, and this is just to mention some of her extensive academic and co-curricular engagement.

Tyra and her story offer a compelling example of what can occur when a motivated student in Gustavus combine. She truly has set the bar high for what it means to be a Gusty and it’s great to speak with her on the podcast about all that and more. Welcome, Tyra.

Tyra Banks:

Hi.

Greg Kaster:

Great to have you on. We have not met in person until just now. You’re on one screen and I’m on the other.

Tyra Banks:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

Great to have you on. It was actually professor Yurie Hong in Classics who suggested you to me for the podcast. Some time ago, I recorded with Yurie and your name came up, so here we are.

Tyra Banks:

That’s so cute. I love Yurie.

Greg Kaster:

She’s great, yeah.

Tyra Banks:

She’s great.

Greg Kaster:

Thanks so much for coming, and I know you’re just coming from track, we’d get into that later, track practice, but let’s just talk. Right now, you’re on campus, right?

Tyra Banks:

Yes, I am.

Greg Kaster:

Okay. What’s it been like? And you’re a collegiate fellow, I should add, which is essentially like, for listeners who may not know, an RA, a residential assistant in the dorm. What’s it been like so far at least this semester amid the pandemic as you’re going to class and being a CF?

Tyra Banks:

For sure. It’s really weird. I’m a CF in Uhler which is a building for upperclassmen, so sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and my residents are primarily made up of juniors and a few sophomores on my floor too, but it’s extremely difficult to get upperclassmen to engage in activities as is, and on top of the pandemic, everything… It’s just even weirder. Trying to get them to come to events that are virtual becomes increasingly difficult because they go from staring at their screens every day for classes or student organizations and they have to come back and stare at more screens with me.

We’ve been trying to brainstorm a lot of creative ways to engage with our residents to get them to talk with other people even though they really can’t talk with someone else unless they have a roommate, but we’re really trying to do at the best we can because with the circumstances that we’ve been served, things aren’t ideal, as you would probably think.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah, well said. You actually raised a really important point which I had not really thought of. Of course, it makes sense. Even I feel that, right? The screen fatigue or Zoom fatigue as it’s being called, how that might affect the willingness or the eagerness of students to do more screen time even for something they might be interested in. Whether it’s a co-curricular activity or a movie, whatever, [inaudible 00:04:18] so that’s a good point.

We’ll come back to your senior year amid COVID later on, but let’s start with your own story. As I mentioned, you grew up in Liberia through about age 13 I guess. Tell us a little bit about that part of your life first.

Tyra Banks:

For sure. My family and I are from Liberia, Monrovia, Liberia. I was born there, lived there up until I was 13 like you mentioned and then moved to the United States. Liberia is definitely different obviously than the United States. I went to an all girls private Catholic school from kindergarten up until I left, so up until I want to say the end of my freshman year, started my sophomore year, and it was a really great experience because I got to see a lot of our gratitude and how much things we take for granted. I didn’t really realize that until I moved to the United States and then started to think back on my experiences and compare that to what I’ve experienced here in the US, but yeah.

My family and I grew up there. I have, what is it? Four siblings. They were also born and raised there. It was kind of sad leaving because I thought I was going to graduate from the school that, like I said, I have been in since kindergarten, but I ended up graduating from the United States instead but I still keep in contact with my family and friends there.

It’s just really weird sometimes because sometimes I feel a disconnect from them because I’ve been here in the United States for almost seven years now and I feel like I’ve missed out a lot of things that I could’ve grown with from my Liberian side and now I feel like I’ve just created this façade that’s like an American Tyra or an American version of me that I feel kind of disconnected from my friends. I try to stay on top of that.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. I was wondering, I think that’s interesting and I remember speaking for the podcast with a professor and talking about her, it’s Angelique Dwyer, if you know her. She teaches Spanish but talking about being both Mexican and US or “American,” same time. Are your parents still there or did they move with you when you came to the US?

Tyra Banks:

First, we came to my dad who just brought us to just get us settled, and then he went back but my mom moved here with us about three years ago and we all lived in Maple Grove, Minnesota.

Greg Kaster:

Okay. Were your parents working, doing some kind of work in Liberia I assume?

Tyra Banks:

Yeah. My dad has a construction company back home called Topaz Enterprise and he does construction, like road construction, wall construction, any and everything, and my mom works here in the US at an assistant senior living facility called Arbor Lakes.

Greg Kaster:

Wow, that’s great. Now, are your siblings back there or they’re here with you?

Tyra Banks:

I have two older sisters. The oldest is married. She’s currently in law school back in Liberia, and my second older sister just graduated from Concordia Moorhead in 2020 right when the pandemic hit. She graduated with a computer science degree. She’s now working at Wells Fargo and funny enough, we used to compete against each other for track because her school’s also part of the MIAC so I used to see her at a lot of track meets, and then my younger sister is 12, she’s in sixth grade, and then we have an adopted little brother who’s five.

My older sister lives in Liberia with her family because she has a son and a husband, and then my older and my younger sister and I live here with my mom, and our little brother moved back in Liberia with my dad.

Greg Kaster:

Fantastic. I’ve never been to any country in Africa. Just as a US historian and teaching about slavery and slave people in the American Colonization Society in Liberia, were you in Monrovia? That’s the capital. Were you there the whole time or where…

Tyra Banks:

I was born in Monrovia, so I grew up there up until I was, I want to say maybe nine, and then my family moved more to the countryside, so we lived in Margibi County which is closer to the airport. I think it was mostly because that’s where a lot of land availability opened up and that’s where a lot more people moved in. It’s quieter too because Monrovia’s a lot, it’s a busy city. I lived in Margibi but my school was in Monrovia, so we had to drive an hour, kind of like driving from Maple Grove to Gustavus to go to school every day. I didn’t drive but…

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. That’s a lot of driving. Then was the choice of the Catholic school, was that because you were raised Catholic or was that just as this is an excellent school, this is where we want our daughter to go?

Tyra Banks:

Funny enough, I actually wasn’t raised Catholic. My family is Episcopalian, which is super close to Catholic because they were part of the Anglo-Saxon little branch, but my dad’s sisters and I think some of his nieces had went to that school because I think it still is the best school in Liberia or maybe one of the best now, and Liberia’s a very patriarchal country and my dad wanted to ensure that we got the best education that me and my sisters could’ve acquired, so he sent us there.

My sisters went there, like I said, some of his nieces, some of my cousins went there so it just became kind of family tradition, plus it was one of the best schools so everything just made sense to send us there.

Greg Kaster:

That’s great. Your parents were looking out for you. By the way, my dad is… Was, he’s passed away, Greek-American. His parents came from Greece, and so I-

Tyra Banks:

Cool.

Greg Kaster:

… was baptized in the Greek orthodox church. I have no memory of that. Basically was raised in the Episcopal church in the suburb of Chicago.

Tyra Banks:

Cool.

Greg Kaster:

I can relate to what you’re saying.

Tyra Banks:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

About it being similar to… Specially high Episcopal, not all that different, except the mass wasn’t then, they were still doing the Catholic mass in Latin.

Tyra Banks:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

That’s such an interesting story. So you go to high school in Minnesota and then Rhode Island for your senior year. How did you find your way to Gustavus? Why Gustavus?

Tyra Banks:

My path to Gustavus is pretty interesting. I moved here to United States when I was in tenth grade. I was 13 years old at the time which is very weird to say this on people nowadays, and we lived in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, so I went to Brooklyn Center High School sophomore and junior year, and then my senior year, like you said, we moved to Rhode Island.

Then I had a friend that went to Brooklyn Center High School that actually got accepted in Gustavus and he had posted it on his Snapchat and was like, “Oh, I just got into Gustavus, I’m so excited.” I was like, “What the heck is a Gustavus? How do you even say the school’s name?” He was like, “Oh, it’s this school in Saint Peter, Minnesota.” I had no idea Saint Peter was even in Minnesota. So many things, I was just lost and just dumbfounded, and he was saying “Yeah,” because they gave him a lot of financial aid too and at the time, I was looking for the school that was going to give me the most financial aid because my mentality was well, college isn’t going to pay for itself.

I’m smart, might as well use my brain to pay for college, so then I was just like… He goes, “Yeah, you should apply and we can go there. Oh my gosh, we’re going to be buddies and blah, blah, blah,” and I’m like, “Sure.” So I applied for Gustavus, I got in and I got a lot of financial aid, but then I started to consider, I was like, “Okay, it’s in a very small town and it’s far away from home,” and then I was like checking all those things on my list.

I was like, “Okay, don’t want to be too close to home because my mom’s going to be a little crazy,” checking all those things like good financial aid, plus everyone in my old school knew me as like the younger sophomore, a younger junior, a younger senior or whatever, so I wanted a clean slate and a fresh start and my friend actually decided to go to Carleton by the time I got accepted to Gustavus, so then I thought, “Well, I don’t know anyone there and that’s going to be very perfect for me to start anew and start fresh,” so I decided to come to Gustavus.

I actually didn’t even tour Gustavus until two weeks before we begin the fall semester. That was my first time. I literally just want to Google Gustavus Adolphus College, looked at pictures and I was like, “That looks fine. Send to my deposit.”

Greg Kaster:

That’s a great story and it’s a reminder that so many historians, regular listeners to the podcast that I talk about, most historians, many of us talk about contingency, all these sort of accidents with dependent variables [crosstalk 00:12:44] variables in life, so who knows? If you hadn’t seen the… What was it? Was it Snapchat or Instagram, whatever?

Tyra Banks:

Yeah, it was Snapchat.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah, I mean it’s funny, and here you are, it’s great. I love that story. Now, you’re double majoring in biology and classics. Some people might say “What? Why those two?” What brought you to those two majors? Did you know for example already you were interested in one or both already in high school?

Tyra Banks:

Yeah, for sure. I knew I wanted to be a biology major because I was coming to Gustavus with a mentality that I was going to be in a pre-med track, prepare myself for MCAT, prepare myself for medical school, and I didn’t find classics until Gustavus. My freshman year, before I came, I was reading what are good majors to take to declare if you’re going to be a pre-med major on a pre-med track, and biology obviously makes sense so I decided, “Well, I like biology and I like STEM, so that makes sense, obviously.”

Then someone had written an article that I was reading that said that a Latin class for example would be very helpful for medical school since a lot of the terminology have either Latin or Greek roots. I was like, “Sure, why not?” I enrolled in the Latin class with professor Matt Panciera who is near and dear in my hear and he’s become my adviser now and I loved it. I ended up falling completely in love with the language, completely in love with [linear biromance 00:14:08] and we even talk a lot about mythology which I was interested in but it was really never fostered as a kid. I just read books, “Oh, this is kind of cool,” but I wasn’t really delved into like everything else.

Then I took Latin 101. Didn’t take 102 because it clashed with my schedule for biology and my STEM major and everything, but then before the summer, Matt Panciera had sent me an email and was like, “Hey, why aren’t you enrolled in Latin 102 and why aren’t you doing like a classics major or a minor, whatever?” I was like, “Well, Latin was fun and everything, but I don’t know if I can do a double major,” and he was like, “It’s okay, just do a minor.”

Then by the fall, I got enrolled in 201 with a new professor who’s not here anymore, but it was a really good class. We learned a lot about Augustus and that’s where a lot of my disdain for that man comes from, but that’s a story for another day. I enrolled in that and then I ended up declaring that classics minor my sophomore year. One time, I was sitting in the formerly known as the [inaudible 00:15:08].

I was sitting in there and came what Yurie Hong and her husband Sean Easton, and they have constantly been asking me, “Are you going to declare major? Are you going to declare the major?” Because I was already on minor and they’re like, “It’s just a few more classes. It’s nothing too bad,” and I caved and I was like, “Fine, fine, fine.” It’s one of the major because one of the reason I didn’t want to declare the major is because I had to take the senior capstone which had a lot because it’s a [inaudible 00:15:37] class. There’s a lot of writing and reading and I did not want to do that. But then I have declared in the major and now I’m done with my classics major, which kind of sad.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah, congratulations. The major, it’s a fabulous major at Gustavus. I sometimes wish I had majored in classics. It’s certainly related to history, and great faculty. Always great department.

Tyra Banks:

Yes. I love the classics department.

Greg Kaster:

Professor Matt Panciera, Yurie Hong, Sean Easton, they’re all just great and others, so good for you. That’s exciting. Now I have to ask you, I cannot resist, what is it about Augustus? Come on. What is it? You just have to-

Tyra Banks:

See, Augustus? Okay, I kind of hate him, one, because the month of August was named after him and I’m a Leo and I’m born in August and I’m like, “Why? I would like to know.” He was a bad man. He was a bad, bad man, okay? There’s this book he wrote called the Res Gestae, which means things haven’t been accomplished, basically is a book about him written by him about things that he did, but written from his perspective of course, and it’s just a bunch of BS in it.

It was him talking about… I mean he did do a lot for the Roman economy and the Roman society but he forgot that he killed a lot of people. He mentioned that it’s like an afterthought when there are actual other sources by other philosophers like Suetonius and Tacitus talking about this is what actually happened and Augustus is over here saying “No, I did this and this and this,” and I was like, “You’re just a liar.” He’s a liar and a phony, as [inaudible 00:17:10] would say. I’m not a big fan of Augustus.

Greg Kaster:

I can’t resist saying I’m sorry. It’s too bad he didn’t have Twitter, right? I mean geez.

Tyra Banks:

Oh my gosh, yes. I would’ve lost my mind.

Greg Kaster:

I love it. I hear your passion for the subject in your voice and I just love that about you. I often tell my students, some of my heroes and a lot of people I detest, they’re dead. I understand, they’re dead. They’re history, I get it, but they’re still my heroes or I have crushes on certain people [inaudible 00:17:44] I know they’re dead. I just think it’s great to have that kind of connection you do to that history.

Tyra Banks:

Thank you.

Greg Kaster:

A practical aspect you said about Latin. My brother in law is a doctor and so I understand that way.

Tyra Banks:

Yeah, and also my classics major forces me to do a lot of critical thinking, a lot of development of written and oral skills, so my writing has become a lot better mostly because of my classics major and because of the contextual subjects with especially Latin because I’m Latin based. I’m not Latin and Greek, I’m just Latin, so learning Latin has really improved not only my speaking skill but definitely my writing skills. It’s always fun to see a word be like, “Oh, I know what that means in Latin” and use that as a little flex.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah, you literally have taken the words out of my mouth. I was going to mention my… I just remember, my brother in law, not just remembering him, but he’s a lawyer. Just remembering that he took Latin also and that it can help you much in law as well, not only because of the terminology but what you just said in terms of writing and thinking clearly and critically.

Tyra Banks:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

It’s a great major. A student I’m very fond of, an alum now who majored in biology and on history at Gustavus. I love these combinations where people might think, “How do they go together?” She’s in marine biology and she basically uses history. She looks at the history of how whales fed, right whales in particular, so sometimes what you think isn’t what is the case, right? These things really do go together in some useful ways.

Tyra Banks:

It does.

Greg Kaster:

I love that. Congratulations on… You did a capstone paper for the classic?

Tyra Banks:

Yeah. I ended up actually writing the paper for the capstone. Yes, I did.

Greg Kaster:

What did you do? What was it about?

Tyra Banks:

My paper was on… Let’s see if I can even remember. This is during COVID so my brain is just like-

Greg Kaster:

You’ve repressed the trauma.

Tyra Banks:

Yeah, I definitely. I think mine was on… I know what it was on. It was on if we can actually detect if there are emotional bonds formed between family members within Roman society based on the text that we have from Rome and the facts and evidence that we have about the relationships formed between them, because we talked a lot in our class about the social bonds and emotional bonds and how that’s very important for, let’s say for example, the nuclear family in our modern era, whereas the Romans, they had very different definitions of what a family constituted of or what exactly was part of their family.

So just looking at those relationships and seeing if we can detect that based on the writing evidence that we have.

Greg Kaster:

That’s fascinating. That sounds great.

Tyra Banks:

Thank you.

Greg Kaster:

You’re reminding me too, I just saw something a few days ago in the paper about, I think it was a chariot was uncovered or discovered somewhere and what they can learn from the wheels. Really, really interesting.

Tyra Banks:

That’s cool.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah, very cool. So again, congratulations on that. You’re still doing the bio major I assume?

Tyra Banks:

Yes. I’m taking the last couple of classes for my biology major this semester and then unfortunately, I have to leave leave Gustavus.

Greg Kaster:

Well, we’ll get to that. We’re not there yet. You still have some weeks, and we have a few more minutes too.

Tyra Banks:

Yeah, about two months.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. Let’s talk about you’ve done a lot of work around equity and inclusion, sometimes the word diversity sort of fall out of favor for I think some good reasons in the case, but you were involved, as I mentioned in the introduction, in leading the Diversity, Education, and Exploration Project, acronym DEEP, D-E-E-P. Tell us a little bit about that work in that organization.

Tyra Banks:

For sure. DEEP is I don’t want to say fairly new, obviously older than me, but fairly new at Gustavus and it is an organization that essentially the goal is to expose other students that are a product of BIPOC communities to other cultures that they most likely will not have gotten an experience too, so it’s an immersive experience. What it does is it sends out applications, people have to apply and say why they want to be in DEEP and why they think, the whole jazz about why you think you’d be a good candidate and all of that. It works everybody a way.

I think every year, they take about 15 people along with an adviser and then they travel to a different state. It’s mostly a different state. Sometimes it’s just a different city around here but it’s mostly different states and they just immerse themself in the culture. There are three different pillars for DEEP. There’s service and excellence. It’s service when they go to the place that they’re going to immerse in different cultures. They find different volunteer opportunities.

For example, we were supposed to go study Chicano culture in Colorado before COVID hit, so we had our plans, we had our hostel booked and everything and we’re going to go volunteer at different food banks and different clinics around the Colorado area that we’re going to be staying in, but that didn’t happen so there’s that. There’s also the excellence part. For us, we’re going to go to different museums and universities to talk about opportunities, to study DEI work or other work that people might be interested in, and then for the museum part, it’s just to learn the historical background about the Chicano culture. Good things, bad things, medium things, all that jazz.

It’s a really good opportunity and it’s not just like you get it because you are part of the BIPOC community. You actually have to be a committed individual and actually be committed to the work that DEEP does. It’s very helpful.

Greg Kaster:

It sounds fantastic, just great. Were you involved only last year or were you involved in earlier years where you could go somewhere?

Tyra Banks:

I actually was not. I had heard of it and every single year, because we go during spring break, like what is it called?

Greg Kaster:

The Habitat for Humanity.

Tyra Banks:

Yes, Habitat for Humanity does, and every spring break, either… Actually, every spring break, not either, I have had a track meet, so I couldn’t go for DEEP but I’ve decided to sacrifice my meet last year and go in and immerse myself in a different culture, but COVID had other plans.

Greg Kaster:

That’s dedication though. Sorry, we’ll come to your track activities in a bit. I just think I learn more about the organization reading about your involvement in it, and I think it sounds fantastic, and as you say, it’s serious, right? It’s’ not just-

Tyra Banks:

Yeah, for sure, because it takes… We start planning because we have our members basically arrange by October and then everyone gets separated into different categories and different things that they are going to handle, so some people get to do like food or entertainment, some people get to do logistical things, some people get to do daily planning things and then each person, we meet like at least twice a month to discuss and it’s also a paid trip because we do go to a different place and we get funded through the Diversity Leadership Council, DLC, but then we also have our members pay dues which encourages us and ensures us to use more resources and be able to do a lot more things than just the money that we get from DLC, so it’s dedication for sure.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah, that’s great, just fantastic. Maybe I’ll look into being your adviser. Sounds so interesting.

Tyra Banks:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

The other organization you’re involved with which I’m more familiar with, not as familiar with it as my wife Kate Wittenstein was before she retired, is the Pan-African Student Organization or PASO. I will never forget meeting the then… I think maybe she was the only… I don’t know if she was a co-president or president of the organization, this would’ve been 1986 probably.

Tyra Banks:

Oh, wow.

Greg Kaster:

We go to the meeting and wanted to be supportive. Kate taught African-American history. Anyway, as I said, Kate especially, I’ve tagged along at times to different events over the years, but I think that’s an incredible organization. You’ve been a real leader in that and still are. Tell us a little bit about PASO and your role in it and then we can talk also about what PASO has been up to this year, which I find interesting.

Tyra Banks:

Sure. PASO, like you mentioned, stand for the Pan-African Student Organization. Our whole goal is to just expose Gustavus community to different things about Black culture. We talk about the Black spirit, the Black heart, the Black mind, lots of things about Black culture. Our members aren’t just Black people. I feel like by saying the Pan-African Student organization, people feel a little bit excluded, but we are open to any and everybody joining our organization.

We’re not closed up and we don’t gate keep our experiences or our resources, so we’re mostly tasked with just educating Gustavus community about all things Black, so that includes celebrating Black History Month, celebrating Kwanzaa or celebrating African Night for example or even our… We have like a hip-hop night type of thing that we’re planning. Well, trying to plan with COVID, but that’s just a little bit about what PASO does.

Greg Kaster:

I think one of my favorite events, I’ve gone to the Kwanzaa and the African Night which I really, really enjoy. One of the things I love, first of all the talent. Is it African Night where there’s… Well, maybe both events, there’s singing and dancing, I mean it’s amazing. I see students I know and I can’t recognize you because you’re all dressed up.

Tyra Banks:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

Amazing. You did have an African Night this fall yet or is that coming up? I can’t remember.

Tyra Banks:

Our African Night is typically planned for the spring. Fun fact, it actually was the last event that was in person at Gustavus before we were sent home last year. We had African Night on Friday. By Tuesday, Gustavus was like, “Yeah, you all got to get out of here,” and so we left. But African Night is typically in the spring. It’s planned by three co-chairs within the PASO organization and they essentially just try to come up with this theme that celebrates something about our heritage as Black students on campus and we just have a bunch of different entertaining factors.

We have music, dancing. Usually we will invite outside guests to come because we get a budget through student senate and DLC, but last year, we had an artist who painted Lupita Nyong’o, her character from Black Panther. I think her name, I think it’s like Nakia, I think that was her name. But he painted her in like five minutes or maybe less. That was super cool. Then we had a little drum group come, we’ve had poets come, we’ve had singers come, it’s a very, very cool experience, and we also have a fashion show. The best part that people like is the food, of course.

Greg Kaster:

The food is amazing, oh my gosh. I’m a big foodie. One year I went there, you just reminded me, there was a dance troop from the Twin Cities. It was incredible.

Tyra Banks:

Yeah. We had them come my sophomore year again. I think I know where we talk about-

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. They’re just fantastic. The other thing about it, it’s packed. I mean I love going, there’s a lot of electricity, excitement in the air, it’s just one of those events for you. You feel like you’re at a place where it’s happening.

Tyra Banks:

Yeah. Typically, we seat about 500 people because the African Night’s all student planned and student led, so we usually run out of seats and there’s people just standing at the back.

Greg Kaster:

That’s amazing. So you are doing it this spring or has it happened?

Tyra Banks:

We actually got approved to host an African Night this year with obviously limited capacity, so our coaches are currently in the works, trying to get creative with having that work for us. I think we got approved to having in Lund which has its own capacity of people so we’re going to be sending out a spreadsheet. First, we’re going to send out an invitation to faculty to ask if anybody wants to come before we send it out to the wider Gustavus community.

So we did get approved to have an African Night. Right now, we’re planning to have it in April as opposed to March which is typically, it is in March, but with like the lack of planning and also not knowing if we’re even approved to have it in person, we have to push it a little bit back. But we’re trying to have it because a lot of our leaders within our the organizations right now are either seniors and we just felt bad that they’re not going to get to experience another African Night before they have to leave Gustavus which I said at least have something for them so they can remember that.

Greg Kaster:

That’s nice. The other thing you mentioned, I think you mentioned Lund. Is that what you said? Lund, it will be in Lund?

Tyra Banks:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Greg Kaster:

Lund is, again, for listeners who don’t know of Lund Center which is this amazing athletic center and in which there are going to be sort of redoing, renovating, making it even better in the next few years which would be exciting.

Tyra Banks:

Yeah, which I’m kind of salty about because it’s after I graduate.

Greg Kaster:

Yes, you’ll have to come back. I’m sorry.

Tyra Banks:

Right.

Greg Kaster:

You can do that free ninth semester, whatever we’ll call it. I don’t know-

Tyra Banks:

Yeah, no. My mental state is not quite there.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. Again, I think PASO is really, really an important organization. There’s a history good to be written, sort of been written by some bits and pieces but there’s just a lot to dig into, even in the archives in the library.

Tyra Banks:

Yeah. Also, we basically run out, but… Sorry. That it was formally called a Black Student Union and then form into the Pan-African Student Union, and then out of the Pan-African Student Union came the diversity center which is now called the Center for Inclusive Excellence, so it’s a lot of dominoes falling for that.

Greg Kaster:

That’s right. Now that’s all true and I’m somewhat acquainted with that history for reasons I don’t need to get into here, but yeah, I think it’s really to capture that history and to looking and doing. We have the college yearbooks going way back. The news of not only the weekly, the newspaper, but other earlier publications and it’s really quite interesting. I’m teaching a course on 1968 and looking in part at what some Black students on campus were doing, but it’s all there, right? Just waiting for people to dig into it and do some research.

Tyra Banks:

Yeah.

Greg Kaster:

So congrats on that. I’m glad to hear there’s going to be an African Night. That’s cool. The other thing is I was impressed with this. This is the historian in me, of course. PASO was involved with Black History Month in February, and correct me if I’m wrong, but the theme was something like know your history or know the past and shape the future or something-

Tyra Banks:

Yup. Know your past, shape the future.

Greg Kaster:

Okay. Can you talk a little bit about that theme, what the intent was and what you did? I think you were showing movies among other things?

Tyra Banks:

Yeah. It was kind of difficult this year because typically, we try to get Black History Month to be very interactive, especially since we’re trying to educate the Gustavus community about Black history specifically in the United States. But this year, we had to adapt an online format which kind of worked but obviously, everything has its downsides.

We have co-chairs that are in charge of planning the Black History Month event and this year, our co-chairs were Zach and Abby who are both sophomores at Gustavus this year and their intent behind the whole theme of know the past, shape the future was kind of inspiration from all the events that transpired this summer with everything from like the George Floyd killing to COVID to the Black Lives Matter movement protest and all of that.

They are trying to educate the Gustavus community that the only way we can move forward as a generation and to have a better future and not repeat history like we keep doing is if we know our past and utilize that past to shape a better future. The whole thing was just knowing the past of Black people, particularly African-American people in the United States and then using that past and seeing how we can move forward and shape the future for those people.

Greg Kaster:

If I were in charge, all of you would be honorary history majors.

Tyra Banks:

Oh, no.

Greg Kaster:

It’s awesome. I mean that’s exactly right. I’m thinking of a very well-known African-American historian my age or maybe a little older who wrote a little bit about, just a short essay about how I became a historian, but one of the things he says in that piece, what he writes in that piece is I was an activist and then I realized I needed to understand the history behind the issues I’m trying to address as an activist in this particular community, and it’s so true what you just said.

How can we know where we are, how we got where we are and shape where we’d like to go without a sense of history, right? That was all music to my ears. It looked to me like you were showing, there was like a movie series too? Is that true?

Tyra Banks:

Yeah. Our events, we had events planned for Thursdays and Fridays of the month of February and then Monday through Sunday, there were different Black or historically Black figures posted on our Instagram page with little facts about them. On Thursdays, we will typically do an event. One Thursday, we did like an open mic night where people could come and share some slim poetry work or sing or anything they had for that time, and then each Friday, we showed a different movie.

We started out first, we wanted to just get people comfortable, so the first movie we showed was… I forgot what it was. I think it’s called like Halloween something with one of the [inaudible 00:35:00] brothers. It was a comedy so it’s just kind of to get people to ease into that, and then we showed Hidden Figures, Just Mercy, and I forgot what our other movie was.

Greg Kaster:

You didn’t show Get Out, did you? Get Out, did you show-

Tyra Banks:

Sorry?

Greg Kaster:

You didn’t show Get Out, did you?

Tyra Banks:

No. Did we? We probably did, actually. But there are so many different things to pick from that the coaches were asking me and my other co-person, [inaudible 00:35:28], and they’re like, “What should we show?” I’m like, “You lost me,” because I don’t even know, because we only had four Fridays so we had to pick four movies, so there’s like a wide theme mostly that they picked.

Greg Kaster:

There are so many great movies right now about African-American culture.

Tyra Banks:

Yeah, and also we’re trying to show movies that just didn’t depict Black people within their drama, so things surrounding like [inaudible 00:35:52] era or things surrounding slavery or things surrounding things like that, right. We’re trying to be like Black people can be happy too and here’s a movie that show that.

Greg Kaster:

Thank you. Hello, exactly. It’s not just the story of despair and horror and oppression.

Tyra Banks:

Yeah, exactly.

Greg Kaster:

That’s just terrific. I was really impressed just looking at the program online and especially, tell your co-presidents, especially that theme, know the past, shape the future.

Tyra Banks:

Thank you.

Greg Kaster:

I want to ask you, this is a personal question. Go with it as you see fit, but what was it like for you? What has it been like for you to be a Black student? Not Black African-American but an African student on a mostly White campus in a mostly White town in a still mostly-

Tyra Banks:

In a mostly White state, yeah.

Greg Kaster:

What is it like?

Tyra Banks:

For sure. Growing up in Liberia, I really didn’t even identify as Black anything because race is not centralized back home as it is here in the United States, so I was just known as Tyra, I didn’t have to tell people, “Oh, I’m a Black woman” or have these two identities put forth before people know anything else about me. But then moving here and looking like every other Black person or I guess appearing with the skin that I have, I got categorized quickly and had to act accordingly I suppose.

We’re more of a “Diverse” school in Brooklyn Center and then when I went to Rhode Island, it was a predominantly White institution like Gustavus, so I was kind of used to that coming out of high school and then coming to Gustavus, but sometimes, I’ve gotten so used to it, I don’t even realize it anymore. I’m used to being the only Black person in my classes or the only Black person in some organization, the only Black person that’s speaking at somewhere, the only Black person that’s doing this.

So that whole tokenism type thing because there’s not a lot of Black people here, and one of the dangerous things about tokenism is you can’t keep choosing the same person, but at the same time, I’m trying not to be a token but I also am very passionate about the things that I’m being asked to speak on and I do want to share my views, so there’s that little… It’s hit or miss sometimes, but you’ll grow interest in time for sure.

I definitely have found… I would say “Found myself” being at Gustavus. I came as like fresh out of high school, sharp mouth. I’m kind of and still a sharp mouth, but sharp mouth and just closed minded and being set in my views and in my values, and Gustavus has taught me a lot about how to be open minded and how to engage in conversations specifically.

Right now, I’m the only graduating senior with a biology major…. I’m the only graduating senior in the biology department and the only graduating senior in the classics department that’s Black. Like Black anything, not just a Black woman. That’s something I didn’t even notice until my sophomore year when I got inducted into the Classics Honor Society, Eta Sigma Phi, and as part of tradition, we have to sign a book that everyone else has signed that’s got inducted and I was just like flipping back.

Then I asked Yurie, I was like, “Do you know if there are other Black names in here that I could possibly find?” She looks at me and she goes, “I think you’re the first one.” I was like, “Oh, that’s great to know.” So I’m currently the first Black woman to be inducted in the Classics Honor Society, the chapter here at Gustavius at least, and I’m the only Black Woman in my graduating class for classics and biology, so it’s definitely been an interesting time. Obviously, everything has its ups and downs, but I try to navigate the word and mind my business.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah, good for you.

Tyra Banks:

Thank you.

Greg Kaster:

I’ve always been interested in this too. This is just something I’ve been interested in from the moment I arrived at Gustavus. What is the relationship like, if you can generalize, I know it’s hard, but between let’s say students who are from Africa, wherever in Africa, at Gustavus and then Black students from whether it’s from Minnesota, from within the United States?

Tyra Banks:

That’s great question. We actually have been having several conversations on that and how there seems to be a disconnect between African-American students and African students, whether African born students or African descent students or anything that falls under that little umbrella, and I will say there’s obviously a disconnect because for example, let’s take me for example.

I grew up in a country that I know as my own, I have a language that I speak that I know as my own and all those things compared to my African-American counterparts who have very little clue where their family is from or have anything about their historical background that doesn’t include the stains of slavery or the stains of [inaudible 00:41:11], the stains of sexism or something or some-ism that their family has faced in this country, and I feel like a lot of African kids fail to see the privilege that we hold in that respect, that we have a historical background that we’re aware of or we have somewhere to call home that’s not just stolen land that we just happened to be brought on or something like that.

There has been a disconnect and we try to have a conversation about it, what? For my junior year. Needless to say, it did not go very well because people were kind of mixing up race and ethnicity and saying “Oh, well, I’ve been called the N-word and I’m African because the whole thing was…” The whole point that people were trying to say was “Oh, well, I’m in the United States, I get looked at as a Black person because I appear as a Black person. I have the same skin as you.”

For example, if I get pulled over by a cop, they’re not going to ask me what part of the Atlantic did I come from. They see a Black person and that’s about it. They see Black and they’re scared, but then at the same time, it’s different because if an African person, for example, if I get pulled over, I have the privilege to use my accent.

I’ve noticed that police officers and even a lot of White counterparts treat African people differently than they treat African-American people because there’s a certain stereotype about African-American people that it’s being so hard to be let go that as soon as someone, for example, if I want to switch to my accent if a cop pulled me over and then they’d be like, “Oh, okay. So you’re not one of those people,” like you’re a different of Black or something like that.

I feel like a lot of us African kids need to realize that we are privileged in a lot of ways. Granted, the majority of people still see us as Black people and still call all of us African-Americans although not all of us identify as African-Americans, but we still have privilege over our African-American counterparts, and that’s where the disconnect comes from because people are trying to say “Oh, wait, you are not Black” or sometimes I say “Oh, I’m more Black than you are,” and there’s a whole crack show to be completely honest, but we’re working on it.

Greg Kaster:

Well, you’re working on it, and it’s also part of the history of Pan-Africanism and Pan-African groups, right? Organizations.

Tyra Banks:

Right.

Greg Kaster:

There’s the rhetoric and there’s the ideal and then there’s just the reality of things one has to work through. You also reminded me that this is even an issue now with let’s say Kamala Harris, right? Is she Black, right? Maybe just she’s the modern-

Tyra Banks:

People trying to quantify Blackness or what exactly constitutes what makes one person Black over another person.

Greg Kaster:

Exactly.

Tyra Banks:

My whole thing is it’s subjective. You can’t tell another Black person that they are not Black because they’d all think you’re a stereotype of what being a Black person should be. There is not one collective Black experience. We each experience our Blackness in different ways and there’s no one person that experiences that more than the other.

Greg Kaster:

That’s exactly right. The other thing is even Barack Obama, right? Someone would say, “Well, you’re not really Black because your ancestors weren’t enslaved.”

Tyra Banks:

Exactly. But obviously, people are never going to call Barrack Obama a White man because if you’re a mixed person, you always get assigned that inferior race, and that is how society is. They’re never going to call Barrack Obama White the same with a Black girl who are going to be like, “Well, you’re not really Black.”

Greg Kaster:

Exactly.

Tyra Banks:

I feel bad for people that are mixed. It’s like where do you even fit in?

Greg Kaster:

Yeah. There’s also this… Gosh, there’s so much to talk about. This is fabulous exhibit. We should talk and fast. There’s a great exhibit at the science museum in Saint Paul on race. It’s a revised exhibit. It’s just incredible on how race is essentially bogus, right? It’s a construction you suddenly get at. What makes me Black? How do I see myself? I mean me literally, but we were saying earlier. Anyway, I wish we could go. I talked to-

Tyra Banks:

Yeah. I could have a whole conversation about this.

Greg Kaster:

Now, I mean there’s so much to learn and think, and I do think, I mean I’m proud of Gustavus. Its efforts led by Siri, [inaudible 00:45:27] and then by the board. There’s faculty and students to try and come to grips with racism and racial justice, and part of this is… Well, a lot of it, let’s be frank, is in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd in May. Thank you for all those reflections which I think are quite important. The other question I want to ask you about now is your involvement in track, right?

Tyra Banks:

Yes.

Greg Kaster:

I’m thinking of this picture of you in the profile in the Gustavus paper where you’re jumping. Tell us, is it the long jump or what do you do? What are you doing in track and field?

Tyra Banks:

Yeah, for sure.

Greg Kaster:

Go ahead.

Tyra Banks:

My event groups are short sprints and jumps, so I do horizontal jumps and that just includes long and triple jumps, but I’m a trip… I’m not a triple jumper. Oh my goodness. I’m a long jumper. I can never triple jump. I don’t have that skill. I’m a long jumper and I’m a short sprinter, so for indoor, for short sprints, I run the 60 meters, sometimes the 200 meters, and then I’ll go where I do the 100 and sometimes the 200, but then long jump indoor and outdoor.

Greg Kaster:

What’s a long jump? I mean literally, how long? How far? What’s it like for you?

Tyra Banks:

You have a runway and then there’s a board that’s about, depending if you’re a male or a female athlete, there’s a board that you have to step on and just land in a pit of sand, so you literally just jump in a pit of sand like a child and they count how far you jumped from the board that you stepped on into the pit.

Greg Kaster:

What’s your own personal best?

Tyra Banks:

My personal best is, what? They do it in meters so I’m going to have to convert here really quickly. About 15 feet and eight inches which isn’t great, but it’s still something.

Greg Kaster:

Good lord, that sounds great to me.

Tyra Banks:

Thank you.

Greg Kaster:

You’ve been doing track. You were doing track even in high school?

Tyra Banks:

No. I actually started track in Gustavus.

Greg Kaster:

What drew you to track at Gustavus?

Tyra Banks:

Mostly my friend DeAnna Giles. She dragged me, if we’re being honest. I was just minding my business and she was like, “Do you want to come run in the track team?” I looked at her and I go, “Do I look like a runner to you?” No. Straight out of high school, I was probably like 100 pounds. I was a tiny child and I was like, “No, I don’t think I want to do that.” But then my sister had ran track in high school and she ran at Concordia, then I found out that they’re part of the MIAC and so is Gustavus, I was like, “Oh, if I joined the track team, I can see Zara all the time.” So I was like, “Fine, I’ll join” because I want to see my sister.

Then I joined and I ended up falling in love with the sport because I actually had always wanted to do track in high school but I never had the time with my academic obligations, so I was like, “Fine, whatever.” I joined and I haven’t left in the last three years and six months.

Greg Kaster:

Well, you got to be good. Not only good at track but good at managing all that you do because you have two demanding majors and then all of the hours spent practicing and traveling to meets and being in meets and on and on and on. That’s impressive.

Tyra Banks:

Yeah, and with track too, it’s every day for two hours, sometimes you go two hours and 30 minutes, and I think one of the philosophies about being a Gusty is that you’re over involved and I think that’s basically what I live at this point.

Greg Kaster:

Yes. Goes back to my introduction. You’re setting a new standard, right?

Tyra Banks:

Right.

Greg Kaster:

Maybe you should relax a little bit now that it’s your last semester.

Tyra Banks:

Once I graduate, the plan is for the first week to sleep and then try to do something with my life.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah, good plan. The other thing you’re involved, we mentioned earlier, is your collegiate fellow in one of the dorms. What are those responsibilities like?

Tyra Banks:

I live in Uhler which is coupled with Rundstrom, so the CFs in Uhler also do rounds in Rundstrom. Essentially, the whole role of a collegiate fellow is to be a liaison between the community and residential life to ensure that students are living quietly, peacefully and everything abiding by Gustavus policies in the residence halls. You’re typically, with our staff at least, there’s only seven of us. There used to be eight of us but one of our staff members is not with us anymore. He’s not dead but he’s not with us anymore.

Greg Kaster:

Good. Thank you.

Tyra Banks:

Essentially, if you’re on duty, you have to do rounds within Uhler, so Uhler East and West, and down the hill to Rundstrom, do a round in Rundstrom and then typically during weekdays, there are three rounds at 8:00 PM, 9:30, and 11:00, and then on the weekends, there are four. There’s 8:00, 10:00, midnight, and 2:00 AM which is the last round, and that’s like after quiet hours to make sure that residents, especially if you’re in like a dry dorm which is a dorm for people that are underaged.

For example, my room would be a dry room because I’m under 21, not allowed to drink, so ensuring that they’re following Gustavus’ policies. With our staff, you’re typically on duty every other week because we are only, like I said, seven people, and we have… I don’t even know how many residents, so it’s demanding but I get my room to myself, so that’s great.

Greg Kaster:

Yes, I can relate. I had a roommate my first semester and then that was it. I got a single room. I can relate totally. One could hear you speak and think, “Wow, this sounds really like a bummer. You have to enforce rules,” but it’s more than that. What’s your favorite part about being a CF?

Tyra Banks:

My favorite part honestly has to be my residence. Last year, I was a CF but I was CF for first year, so I lived in COED, and my favorite part about especially being with first years is I was like their introduction to the Gustavus community because they came with a clean slate and really, they knew nothing about the Gustavus community being about, how to go about being a college student, and I could be there for them. I could be that inspiration or even that resource they needed, and I love that because I loved helping them get acclimated to the Gustavus environment or even to the college life.

My favorite part, like I said, is definitely with my residents and helping them. This year, one of my best friends in the track team actually is my resident and lived literally outside of my door, so I see her basically every single day because not only do we live in the same dorm on the same floor, we’re also on the same team and see five days a week.

I really love getting to talk to them and getting to know them as people because I feel like, especially with Minnesota, is the Minnesota to just say hi and “How are you?” “Good.” “Great” and never see that person for the rest of the day, whereas like with my residents, I get to talk to them, ask them, “What’s your favorite type of cheese” or something like that. I feel so obnoxious asking questions like that, but what are you going to do? I tell them you don’t have to answer, obviously.

Greg Kaster:

That’s right. I can tell, I’m sure you’re very good at it, I have no doubt. The other thing I want to touch on just briefly before we conclude here a bit is you’ve been… I don’t know what the word is. Elected to this organization on campus called Saint Lucia and I think you were named Saint Lucia. Tell us a little bit about what that involves.

Tyra Banks:

Yeah. I was the Saint Lucia, what? Sophomore? Oh my gosh, that feels like so long ago. Sophomore year I could say which was fall of 2018, and essentially, the Gustavus community and the Gustavus College tries to stay close to its Swedish roots, so the whole legend of Saint Lucia comes from Sweden and it talks about this lady that was a light in her community, she was a beacon of hope. She had all these characteristics. She was compassionate, she was a leader, and all that good stuff.

Gustavus elects a port of Saint Lucia members every year, so it has to be sophomore women because Saint Lucia, when she dies, they said that she was about 20 years old which is typically the age that a sophomore in college would be, except I was 17 when I got elected, so that’s a story for another day. When I got Saint Lucia, I was very shocked because I was like I don’t go about my day being like, “Hey, am I light in your life today? Did I make you smile?” I’m just being Tyra, and I guess me being Tyra was inspiring to people enough for them to even elect me to such a huge honor.

I didn’t even know it was a big thing until the day of the Saint Lucia Festival when I walked in the chapel and the entire chapel was filled with so many people, mostly alumni too, and I had to walk down the aisle with lit candles on my head, so that was… I had so much candle wax in my hair and there was a picture published in the Mankato Free Press that literally someone took a picture of me when I first realized that candles were lit and I look horrified. I was on the front cover of the newspaper and I was upset because I was like, “Why would you do this to me?”

Greg Kaster:

Right. I hope they’re having someone follow you with some fire extinguisher.

Tyra Banks:

Right. As soon as I came back, they immediately turned it off.

Greg Kaster:

Yeah, exactly. The other thing about that is you’re elected too. Correct me if I’m wrong, you’re elected by fellow students, members of… Is that how it works?

Tyra Banks:

Yes. You have to get nominated and then the top I want to say five or six women get put in like the… Not five, final six. That’s for the actual port. There’s like a final number of people with the most votes that get put in the final poll and then people vote for those people and then the top six women get elected to the Saint Lucia port, and then they’re part of the port and the final voting comes when they vote for Saint Lucia out of those top six women.

Greg Kaster:

Well, congratulations on all that as well.

Tyra Banks:

Thank you.

Greg Kaster:

Although I have to say, I’m not sure I want walking you with burning candles.

Tyra Banks:

Right. That wasn’t even… The weirdest part is Saint Lucia, apparently her legend goes that they saw a woman with light on her head. I don’t know why they thought candles. They could’ve done electric lights, but whatever, with a lighted wreath and the white gown and everything carrying food to the poor people where she became [inaudible 00:55:58] and it was like we had to get up at, what? 5:00 AM because apparently, because it was during Christmas so we had to go caroling. We literally were in the dorm halls singing Christmas carols.

If I woke up to that, I would’ve freaked out, just saw a bunch of women in white gowns with laurels around their head holding candles and singing Christmas carols. The whole part just freaked me out because I was like, “Guys, we are freaking people out.” Someone opened their door and just looked at us so dirty, we hurried out of that dorm hall because we were like, “Oh, we’re so sorry, we have to do this.”

Greg Kaster:

That’s funny. I love that. What about, to conclude here, I’ve been kind of resisting this because it’s your senior year, it’s your last semester of your senior year and it’s been amid COVID. What are your thoughts about that? I mean I’m sure there are things you wish you could’ve done, couldn’t do in person, but as you start to think back on this pandemic year started as we know last spring, what are your thoughts and feelings?

Tyra Banks:

Yeah. This is obviously not how I pictured my senior year. I have this group of friends that I met during my first year at Gustavus that was practically my crew. We hung out all the time, but as we got older and it was sophomore, junior year, we just drifted apart, but we came together for COVID and said, “We have to redo freshman year because it was so fun.” We had so much fun and we laughed and made so many memories.

So we had drafted all these plans and all these things we’re going to accomplish at Gustavus before we left, and then bam. COVID was like, “No, you’re not going to do that.” It’s kind of disheartening to think about that especially when it comes to graduation, knowing that I’m not even going to get to hug my friends because some of them are probably leaving the country, leaving the states, setting up for other big goals and things and it’s just… It’s very sad because I’m like, “Well, when am I ever going to see any of you again?”

But I’m grateful for being back on campus and having some of the people that I’ve met here on campus, because even though we have masks on our faces and we have to be socially distanced, at least I still have some type of human interaction with them that’s not just seeing them from a computer screen and my phone screen and being like, “Are you even real? Is this even reality or are we living a simulation?” I’ve been grateful for that part, at least to get to see them and to get to talk to them again. But besides that, senior year is going all right I guess. It’s as good as it can go for the circumstances. I would say that.

Greg Kaster:

That’s well said. I feel exactly the same way. I haven’t been teaching online and that’s exactly how I feel. As a professor, I know it’s different, it’s no one’s first choice, but there is on the other hand, real learning occurring and I’m grateful that I could see the students at least on a screen. I don’t know that they’re grateful they can see me.

Tyra Banks:

The ones that turn on their cameras.

Greg Kaster:

Exactly. Yeah, we won’t get into that. Your pre-med and the plan is to take a gap year it sounds like and then apply to med school. It’s just occurred to me, well, if you become a doctor, you’ll be able to look back on this pandemic, right?

Tyra Banks:

Yeah, exactly. There’s an article that said that there’s a spark of interest with people wanting to become doctors or become practicing physicians because of the pandemic and seeing how it’s affected especially the United States so devastatingly? I think that’s the word.

Greg Kaster:

Yes. By the way, quickly, how about Liberia? Do you have any idea how it’s going there?

Tyra Banks:

We were hit harder by the Ebola than we were by COVID. I was back in Liberia when Ebola hit us and I was there for like the first seven, eight months of it, which was quite an interesting time. But COVID hasn’t affected us as much as Ebola did. Ebola wiped out a good chunk of the population whereas COVID, it hasn’t been a huge increment of number of people.

Greg Kaster:

Good. Well, it’s been an absolute pleasure, Tyra, speaking with you. I can’t wait to meet you in person.

Tyra Banks:

Right.

Greg Kaster:

You sound like a lot of fun.

Tyra Banks:

Thank you.

Greg Kaster:

Best of luck with everything, the rest of your semester, all your work, and I guess I might see you? I don’t know. I don’t care if faculty would be allowed at the graduation ceremony or not, but I’ll be-

Tyra Banks:

Yeah. Who knows at this point?

Greg Kaster:

It seems like we’re headed in the right direction. I know as a historian, you know we’re going to get through it, it will end, but maybe not as fast as we’d all like. But seriously, it’s been really fun. Seriously, it’s been really fun. Yeah, I guess. Yes. Seriously, it’s been really fun to speak with you. All the best. Thanks for sharing all you did, and take good care.

Tyra Banks:

Thank you. Have a good day.

Greg Kaster:

Likewise. Bye-bye.

Tyra Banks:

Bye.

Greg Kaster:

Learning For Life at Gustavus is produced by JJ Akin and Matthew Dobosenski of the Gustavus Office of Marketing. Gustavus graduate Will Clark, class of 20, who also provides technical expertise to the podcast, and me. The views expressed in this podcast are not necessarily those of Gustavus Adolphus College.

 

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Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
jakin@gustavus.edu
507-933-7510

 

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