“I don’t know the specifics of my adoption, but I do know that my birth parents were dealing with a lot of drug-related issues. I have some memories of them, from going to visit them during the adoption process.

Kids would make fun of me, saying, ‘You don’t know who your real parents are.’ At first, it would bother me. But, as I got older, I realized that that’s really a slap in the face to my mom because I do know who my parents are. They’re the people that I have at home. I had to understand that people are going to talk about you regardless. And, I’m glad that my mom kind of taught me that. When I would go home and tell her what they said, she would say, ‘People are always going to talk about you. You will have to find a way to live on with that.’

My mom and dad did not go to college. But, my mom is a big advocate for doing the best that you can do and really advancing your education. She was always hard on us when it came to school. If you made anything lower than a B, she felt like you underperformed. You could have done better. I’m thankful to her for doing that. I have six older siblings, one by blood, and they’re all college graduates.

My mom was always supportive of me going to college. Not so far away from home, though. ‘Why don’t you go in-state somewhere? Why do you have to go all the way down there to Jackson?’ There’s no family down here. But, she raised me well. And, she trusted that I would make the right decisions while I was down here.

But, my story isn’t particularly special. Each one of us has gone through something. I mean, that’s just life. We are going to go through something. It’s just whether or not you’re going to be able to deal with it. And, we are all able to deal with it.

– Johnathan, computer engineering major from Chicago, Illinois. Johnathan is one of the five drum majors in the ’17-’18 Sonic Boom of the South Marching Band.