Tojanai Peterson-Colon and Nancy Zook

Recorded June 2, 2021 Archived May 28, 2021 23:23 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: CHI003546


Tojanai Peterson-Colon (18) talks to her new acquaintance Nancy Zook (55) about graduating from high school and her plans for the future.

Subject Log / Time Code

TPC reads her "I am" statement that she wrote for Ms. Zook at CCA Academy.
TPC talks about being a role model for her younger siblings.
TPC talks about what interests her about mortician work.
TPC talks about how her mom has always been there for her.
TPC describes herself as a deep thinker.
TPC talks about what she was like as a kid.
TPC reads her "I Am" statement again.


  • Tojanai Peterson-Colon
  • Nancy Zook

Recording Location

Virtual Recording

Venue / Recording Kit

Partnership Type




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00:07 Hey, my name is Todd, Renae Peterson, cologne. I'm 18 years old. It is June 1st 2021.

00:19 I'm in Chicago, Illinois, and the name of my partner is Nancy. Just meet on ourselves.

00:31 And I'm Nancy, zook 55. And today is June 1st 2021. Where in Chicago, Illinois at CCA Academy in North Lawndale, and I'm here with tajanae tajanae is a student at our school.

00:57 Okay, so I think it'll be a good start. If it's all right with you tajanae that you could read your, I am statements. And then maybe later on, you could feed them again and you know, to read them slow and with conviction.

01:16 I am smart. I am beautiful. I am a daughter. I am a bit sensitive for younger sibling. I am funny. I am kind-hearted. I'm a 2021 graduate this year and I love you to mortician.

01:33 Was that loud enough?

01:42 Maybe try one more time and do it a little life.

01:47 I am smart. I am beautiful.

01:52 I am a daughter. I am a big sister to for younger siblings. I am funny. I am kind-hearted. I am a 2021 graduate this year and I am a future mortician.

02:09 So this is kind of fun because we don't know each other very well. So I'm just going to ask you to talk a little bit about what you think. You feel like the purpose of your life is what the meaning is. What what meaning you feel like your life has right now.

02:30 After that, the purpose of my life is to be great to live everyday.

02:37 Try it again. I feel that the purpose of my life is to be great to live everyday, doing everything that I would want to do and not look back. Like I should have done that. I should have done that, I wanted. And I also want to be the first one to ever attend college, in my family.

02:55 That's awesome.

02:57 How many people are in your family?

03:00 It's a lot, a lot. How many brothers and sisters? I have one brother, and three sisters. Are they older or younger? The older? So how how do you see your role with all of your siblings being younger than you?

03:22 I know they look up to me to tell me all the time. So it's like,

03:29 Maybe in the oldest they looking up to me. I have to leave by example.

03:37 You feel like you have a responsibility here.

03:44 Do you like that? You have that responsibility?

03:48 I actually do like it because I have a lot of fun doing it. So it's really not a lot of pressure because I get to have fun doing it.

03:58 Are you off and responsible for them are in charge of watching them and taking care of them? But when I do, I think that's why I enjoy 24/7. So when I finally do is fun and no ketchup.

04:17 You don't all live in the same household. Just me and my brother.

04:25 What kind of things do you think have been struggles in your life to get to this point? You're getting ready to graduate high school. I know you have a plan to go to.

04:37 College, or is it to mortician school? What is what is that called?

04:44 When you get a trade school, where you learn that?

04:49 I don't think so. I seen a college.

04:53 That.

04:56 But like, Billy majors and Alibis for that. And I also have like family that is no way to help me out with that. Like, get me, some people like, last summer. I was at

05:12 I was always at a funeral home and like watching it like seeing it for myself, but I was never Hands-On with it. So like it was an internship.

05:23 And for someone else, but I was always there to watch.

05:27 And why? Why choose that?

05:31 For your profession. What meaning does that have for you?

05:40 For me, if I would be one right now. I just it's just like,

05:47 Everybody make death look like a bad thing.

05:53 I can't explain it. I really can't explain it that way. Yes. Yes, and like, how do you see death? And when you respond you can say, I see death?

06:14 I never really talked about it to nobody else, you know, death is not just the end or not. Just something to be afraid of but also,

06:36 Other ways that people think about.

06:41 That being a beginning point to something else or the significance of it.

06:53 And we can come back to it or talk about it later on if you think about it.

07:02 What was interesting to you about what? Morticians do?

07:09 The whole thing with sink because I want to be is like, I want to be in there with the body. Removing everything you do. Like I want, I want to do all that.

07:21 And it says, interest in like,

07:25 If I started with you don't like dissecting animals and stuff like that song like I want to listen to be like on a actual person.

07:34 Anatomy. Yeah, pretty much.

07:41 Eccentric.

07:45 Describe the person that you want to become.

07:52 Not just what you want to be, right? But not just your location. Not just your job.

08:02 Person, I will want to become.

08:06 We'll have to be.

08:14 Like less of this right now.

08:17 Not knowing what to do, what to say?

08:21 Want to be outgoing?

08:27 States of my plans.

08:35 To be confident. Yes.

08:38 You could say that in your own words. Now.

08:49 To say, I want to be more confident. I want to, I want to be more confident and myself and everything that I do.

09:02 Is there anything specific that? You really want to change about yourself?

09:16 What are you proud? Cut out? I have a habit of just shutting out like to shut down is like, no, I'm not going to do this. No, I know, and I want to be like that all the time.

09:39 This is draining frustrating. It'll make me feel no better.

09:47 How do you manage that? Now? What's different that you manage it, now that you're able to still move forward, instead of shutting down. Was there something that happened that made that change? I was just

10:02 Like, I will always try to figure things out on my own.

10:07 Instead of no, just simply asking for the help going to somebody asking for the help. I was never doing that before. And like even before like we was doing in school. I was kind of getting like that. Like I called the school. I was crying like it's hard.

10:28 Like, it's hard. I can't keep doing this online. Like, it's hard for me.

10:35 I was just having a nervous breakdown, like,

10:40 I can't feel like I can't.

10:44 But you're making it. I'm sorry. I don't have a tissue. Is there a person who influenced you or help to motivate you. That time? She pretty much all I have really?

11:01 To literally all I have every day. Get to school. Do school do this? Do that.

11:09 It is all about school doing everything that I have to do. Like everything else. Can wait on my mom cheese.

11:21 She's strong.

11:24 She's she's like me, like she's kind of hard. She think about others one. She do herself. She's outgoing.

11:37 Your chair is squeaking, while you're he's come over.

11:48 She's,

11:51 Mars, she's loving.

11:55 Hearings. Keep everything that my mom.

12:04 She sounds like an amazing person and she is raised you to be a very special person as well.

12:13 Yeah, it don't matter. How old I get, I'm going to always need my mama or something.

12:22 We all need our moms.

12:27 What would you say to someone in your position or thinking? So what would you say to encourage or to help someone if you looked back to help someone? The way your mom has been encouraging you and staying with you?

12:51 Can you repeat that one more time? If there was someone else that you saw here at school, someone that you knew that was having the same kind of struggles as you. That was shutting down. That wasn't able to ask for help that was struggling to move forward in their life. How how do you think you could help them or what might you say to them?

13:14 I told them that.

13:18 You're not alone.

13:21 They have all these people around them me, whoever else.

13:28 Everybody. Like,

13:31 Whatever you need.

13:36 Say it.

13:38 And,

13:40 Figure it out.

13:45 What's a really great?

13:51 I'm looking most forward to.

13:57 I'm looking most forward to graduating starting. Fresh go to college people things.

14:09 I just want different.

14:12 Are you staying here in the city or are you moving? Yeah, for right now, cuz I don't want to go too far from home and the whole thing with Kobe to still going on. So I feel like when it died down, then I'll start looking to go somewhere farther, but for now, I want to be home.

14:37 Could you describe yourself as?

14:41 Happy.

14:44 Sad nervous.

14:46 Right now we're here in general and when I used to get that but not for too long. Like that's not going to help nothing. I get up, do something about it, do some of myself. And usually when I'm feeling like all sad stuff I go to my friends, we talk.

15:11 Stuff like that. Like, I'm real cuz my friends.

15:16 They like,

15:39 How am I friends described mean? I say my friends would describe me as

15:47 I don't know, cuz they so much like me there so much, like me, but they think like, I'm the strongest.

15:56 And this like know, y'all are just like

16:02 Us being together and make us stronger.

16:17 What else do you want to say about who you are or what you're thinking about life right now? If you had to make a statement or you wanted to share something for everyone to think about or no?

16:42 The understanding that, I'm not really understand. If you get up on stage and you had the audience of everyone and you wanted to say something to them, give them advice or share. Something with them about who you are. What would that be?

17:08 You know like the beauty queen gets up or what do you want for the world? So I want world peace and World whatever but what do you want to share?

17:20 With people, if you could have a platform or a stage to say it.

17:25 On Twitter or wherever you are online.

17:30 I can't really stay, but I was just would like everybody to

17:36 Come together. I just feel like everybody is really divided nowadays.

17:55 I feel like I'm stronger now that I'm a little older.

18:00 Because,

18:04 I'm more like the pendant.

18:07 Oh myself, then. I was before, when I was younger, like a land on everybody else and never believe.

18:18 Wanted to do anything for myself. And I do now.

18:24 And,

18:28 The same.

18:42 I say the way I think.

18:58 That was really outgoing as a kid.

19:01 Like,

19:03 Always wanted to try something new.

19:07 Explore new stuff, new places.

19:12 I was really out there.

19:16 And now, as an adult.

19:18 Just feel like I'll have tough everything that I want to do right now. Like my outside life, cuz I'm just so focused on what's next. Like, I don't call you, do the whole different ballgame than High School, Grammar School.

19:34 I'm really just I don't want to go in there, not knowing what's going on. I want to be prepared.

19:40 Then I know like I'm still making decisions and I don't want to like go this way thing like, oh, no, I don't know. I shouldn't have done that.

19:55 I'm still figuring lights out.

19:58 Just trying to stay focused on what's important.

20:02 What are you going to do with your summer ahead?

20:19 Like I said before, I'll just be prepared.

20:24 I really want to get to Tampa College. I don't want to.

20:29 Go in, I'll scared of like.

20:35 What have you been doing to be prepared or what do you want to do? Or what? Do you think you should do to be more prepared for the fall?

20:50 I like to be more Hands-On and most stuff with school and studying the like.

21:02 Instead of just,

21:08 Like will like hearing about it.

21:13 I really want to be more Hands-On. Like I said for, like going back to the

21:19 Cemetery watching, or like,

21:23 Mail, I get in touch with some people from school. I choose connecting with them.

21:33 Yeah.

21:36 Still figuring that out.

21:43 What are you most looking forward to on the 14th when you graduate?

21:49 On his way to say I did it.

21:53 And I was lot of times. I thought I had it wasn't going to happen.

22:00 I want to say, I did it.

22:07 How would your mom describe you?

22:12 My mom.

22:20 She described me as.

22:30 I hate speaking for others. I don't know. I don't know. You don't have to if you don't want to answer something.

22:41 Right now, she's proud of me. So,

22:50 I am smart. I am smart. I am beautiful. I am a daughter. I am a big sister to for younger siblings. I am funny. I am kind-hearted. I am a 2020-2021 graduate this year and I am a future mortician.

23:13 That was great. That was much better.