Podcast by Stanford seniors gives platform to stories of being Black, first generation college students at elite campus

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- "What do you get when you take four kids from the hood and send them to a prestigious university on full scholarship, the Comeup Collective?" describes one of the podcast hosts, Mekhi Jones, a Computer Science graduate who just landed his first internship as a software engineer at a tech company.

At first listen, the Comeup Collective podcast sounds a little like you are eavesdropping on a late-night dorm conversation.

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There's a lot of swearing and a lot of real talk about Stanford first impressions, race, career prospects, future plans, navigating campus life.

It's meant to be that way according to the four hosts, all Stanford seniors on full scholarship, all Black, all the first in their family to go to college.

For Mekhi Jones, Mamadou Diallo, Garry Humphries and Sheck Mulbah they chose to launch the podcast as a place to exhale, be completely themselves while fostering community and sharing knowledge.

"We know these stories are unique in the sense that we are first generation low-income and we want to share them with people," said Diallo, a Computer Science graduating student.

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"I think the intersection of being black, low-income first generation can feel very isolating," said Humphries, a Science, Technology and Society graduating student.

"You're worried about stuff like what's going on back home, with family, I have to manage two jobs, I can't really join a club right now because that's going to take time from working," said Mulbah, a Political Science graduating student. "With these guys I feel like they were there to throw a lifeboat at me, I see you're drowning, I see you're trying to act like you're not drowning, I got you."

The hosts also recently did an episode on Black Lives Matter, their hope is the podcast will help people widen their perspectives.

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"We also found it very therapeutic when we got together and we were all voicing our concerns, voicing our anger, the parts that make us sad," said Jones.

Less than ten per cent of the student population at Stanford is Black, for the podcasters, the show is their sanctuary. About racism on campus, they have this message.

"It's still there, it's still present in our staff, the people who are teaching us, the people we study in textbooks," said Humphries,"It does a similar level of harm, it's just happening behind the scenes."
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