Whether it's the typical high-angle shot featuring side-swept bangs, or a staged group photo before going out to dinner, selfies have become an integral way of capturing the moment.

As the selfie frenzy continues to flood Instagram and Facebook, "#TheRealSelfie" is a new challenge that asks students to take a different look at themselves and others.

"Whatever you want to say about yourself, this is an amazing opportunity," said Edwanna Andrews, Social Justice and Advocacy Department director for Student Development and Enrollment Services.

Last week, students were lured to the project's table by a rack of colorful cupcakes and music blasting from speakers in the Student Union.

Participants were given a small dry-erase board and asked to write a stereotype that they debunk about their identity, then take a photo holding their statement.

"It allows students to share who they are more than the visual [aspect of who they are]," Andrews said of the challenge.

SJA and the Multicultural Student Center teamed up to put on the event. Photos will be shared via social media as a campaign to showcase diversity on campus and demystify stereotypes.

Tydearian Cocroft, a junior marketing major and chair of the event, said the initiative helps people become more conscious of the way they refer to others. Cocroft said that as a black, gay male, he wishes not to be viewed as feminine, or constantly expected to try to perform better in his classes than his fellow white classmates to prove his worth.

Growing up, Cocroft was often around people who made homophobic remarks that put him in a constant state of worry and fear of judgment. But starting college liberated him of the shackles he thought he was bound by because of his identity.

"When I got here, it was like a slap in the face because I really didn't understand how my culture could be great, how someone else's culture could be great," he said. "How are we supposed to build a society based on liberty and freedom if we can't come together and realize that we're all here for the same purpose?"

Jin Lee, a freshman biology major, also participated in #TheRealSelfie.

Many of his friends and classmates expect him to be smarter just because he is Asian.

But Lee said he doesn't feel as smart as his Korean friends, and others' expectations for his intelligence weighed him down as a teen.

Classmates would look to him for the answers in a trivia game, assuming that because he is Asian, he must be smarter than them.

"People were kind of disappointed in me for not knowing all the answers," Lee said. "I took it to heart when people would say, 'Stop messing around, you're Asian, come on.'"

Lee found ways to excel in other outlets, such as by playing viola and wrestling.

At his local middle school, he also tutors students in music and helps train them in the shot-put.

"I'm the jack of all trades, but master of none," he said. "I tend to do a lot of things, but not as much as others would think as far as education."

Friends of Rachel Kalikapersaud, a sophomore biology major, also expect her to be smarter than they are, but Kalikapersaud has more of a lighthearted stereotype to deal with: She doesn't like spicy Indian food despite her heritage.

"There's too many people that think that certain people are supposed to be a certain way," she said.

Kalikapersaud said she feels the project is beneficial because it shows that while ethnicity may influence a person's appearance, it may not always influence a person's preferences or individual characteristics.

More photos from #TheRealSelfie will be posted on the Multicultural Student Center's Facebook page and can be found at

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