Chantelle boateng, Social media/Online Editor
My name is Avel Montas and I am originally from the South Bronx. I am currently a senior majoring in communications and media with a concentration in public relations.
Both of my parents are from the Dominican Republic. My mom is from Puerto Plata and my dad is from the capital, Santo Domingo. They got married but divorced when I was 2 years old due to domestic violence abuse and then we kind of moved all over, from place to place. So, I never really had a home, except for my grandmother’s house. I came to the U.S. when I was 14 years old and got kicked out and that was when I moved back in with my grandma.
Ever since then I kind of became self-dependent. Then came college which is where I became the man I am today, more level-headed, intellectual and innovative. I also became fully independent last year.
I was able to attend UC through the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), which gave me a second chance to receive higher education. I messed up in high school, so getting a second chance meant a lot. The HEOP program, along with financial aid, helped me to cover the tuition costs and made it easier to come here for school.
When I arrived at UC, it was a culture shock because I didn’t know how to interact with people who didn’t know much about my culture. Which at first caused a lot of tension and confusion. It wasn’t until I began the process to bring my fraternity, Phi Iota Alpha, back that I felt that I had a stable family here now with Greek life. HEOP was the first family I had here and that is what pushed me to realize that this was for me.
I will be the first in my family to graduate here in the United States, so it is more of like pushing myself because you can’t grow unless you put yourself out of your comfort zone. Even when I was uncomfortable or struggling, I lost my mom two years ago during my junior year, I still came back to school.
I also made sure to become involved on campus. I am the president of Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity, I am public relations for the Inter-Greek Council and I am also a member of Fuerza Latina.
I did always want to be part of Greek life coming into college, but I just didn’t fit into any group or receive a welcoming sense from any other fraternity. I didn’t feel like me being a gay latino was appealing to them, and it definitely wasn’t because none of them approached me. Even when I tried to approach them, it was just more like I was a token.
There are times when I don’t feel accepted on campus. A lot of times, I feel like it’s my own people that are the worst towards me when it comes to me being gay. But in today’s age and the political environment, it can be hard because you can’t force someone to feel or accept a certain culture or group of people. Overall, it’s about being transparent, educating and being patient with others because whenever someone feels a certain way about my sexuality it’s all about educating them.