As a college student who grew up on a military base and in a southern town, 22-year old Daphne Hines has a unique perspective on the world.
Her father was a United States Airman, so Daphne spent ten years of her childhood living on an Air Force base. Daphne thrived on the base. The community was global, diverse, and welcoming, and exposed her to foreign languages and cultures. The tight-knit support structure sometimes felt like a large extended family: “The bonds of the military community were stronger bonds than the differences of race or ethnicity,” she says.
Daphne was shaken when she moved to the small city of Goldsboro, N.C., where she saw prejudice and marginalization—and as a young black woman, experienced it herself. Repeatedly she was followed in stores; at first, she thought nothing of it, but when it continued she realized that she was considered “suspect and unwelcome.” She missed the communal, open spirit that she had taken for granted on the base.
Daphne changed the way she looked at people; she realized not everyone was going to be open and accepting. She decided that was something she wanted to work to change.
Now a student at the University of North Carolina Greensboro and an intern with the American Friends Service Committee, she’s involved in efforts to make the world a more accepting place—through both policy and community activism.
With AFSC, she helped young refugees explore their perspectives and feelings on the world. And at school, she has been part of protests against tuition hikes.
Watch: Daphne's submission for "If I Had a Trillion Dollars"
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College affordability is a key issue for her. “We need to make education accessible so that everyone can pursue his or her American dream,” she says. “After all, once you have information and knowledge you can help be part of the solution.”
To bring this issue to a wider audience, Daphne produced a short film for this year’s “If I Had a Trillion Dollars” youth film festival, which asks young people to show how they would spend the $1 trillion spent yearly on the U.S. military—the same amount spent on the wars abroad.
Though she is a military daughter, Daphne sees reason to cut Pentagon spending—to her, a strong nation includes a strong economy, a stable federal budget, and specific attention to important issues like college affordability.
“It is frustrating because in this country you have to spend money to make money,” she says. “College debt has become a way of life, and yet some students don’t have the luxury.”
Daphne is committed to learning, justice, and making her community—which she defines as the United States—better for her children and grandchildren. “We are all human beings, we all have the same needs, and everyone should get a fair shake.”
AFSC is working on access to higher education in other ways, too—we are part of the Let’s Learn NC campaign, which advocates for the same college tuition for all North Carolina students. Currently, undocumented immigrants are charged out-of-state tuition—which is four times higher than in-state tuition—even if they meet the same academic and residency requirements as other students. More info at: letslearnNC.org.