Justin Ford

Justin Ford is proof that a true Spartan can become a proud Hoosier.

In 2012, Justin earned his master's degree in higher education and student affairs at Eastern Michigan University. He was eager to start his career but wanted to do so in a new city that offered new experiences. He also wanted to stay within driving distance of his hometown, Grosse Pointe, Michigan. As fate would have it, Bloomington was the perfect fit.

That August, Justin took a position as an academic advisor in the Kelley School of Business. A year later, he joined the faculty as a lecturer. This appointment has allowed him to have a positive impact similar to the kind teachers had on him as an openly gay, black student in a majority white high school.

Description of the following video:

My name is Justin Ford. So I grew up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, which is overwhelmingly white. 

 

It was a time where I just felt like it couldn't quite find my niche, you know, I didn't know if I was going to be the athlete kid, or the popular kid, or the AP class kid - I just didn't quite know where I was gonna fit in that, and not that I couldn't have been any of those things, I think it's just because I perceived that because I didn't look the same as people that I wouldn't perhaps fit into any of those groups or I wouldn't perhaps be accepted because I didn't quite understand them the way they understood each other and so i can remember not feeling - I didn't feel ostracized, but I didn't quite feel like I fit in. 

 

Did anyone go out of their way of help you fit in?

 

Yes, after I came out, my friends were supportive, and socially that was fine, but it was actually the teachers who were really supportive of me, and I think they understood that being 14 and being out and being a black guy at a High School where a lot of people are unlike you is probably somewhat challenging.

 

It was really nice to have teachers whose job is to really perform academically, it helped me perform academically, but to really be concerned about me as person, and that was quite remarkable. 

 

Every semester, every year I have at least one queer student who wants to talk and usually comes out to me, and says, "hey, I really appreciate that you're out, and out the classroom, I'd love to just talk to about my experience, I don't have a lot of experience there, or I'm afraid to tell my parents" so I always try to make time for that, because I think that those students - they're coming to me because they don't know perhaps who else to go to. 

So academically I try to go above and beyond just the academic call, but to also be an advocate for my students; to be listening a year for my students.

I have the responsibility to do something for the next generation, so that it's a little bit better than the folks that came before me, and a little bit better for the folks will come after me.


 

It was really nice to have teachers whose job was not only to help me perform academically but also to be concerned about me as a person. That was quite remarkable.