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Christal Walker ’22 shares her journey of self-exploration and discovery. In college, she identified her creative roots and reflected on the importance of human connection in every person’s life. Throughout her time at NC State, she applied the concept of “sonder” that she had first heard of from her favorite artist. Now, Christal has found her place, peace, and purpose to live her truth.


Four years. One word. Sonder.

Sonder – noun. the epic realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own

In my senior year of high school, I discovered one of my favorite artists and favorite albums of all time: Sonder Son by Brent Faiyaz. At the time, I had no clue how impactful the storyline and symbolism the album would have on my life.

As a music lover (A.K.A melomaniac) with a specific fondness for Rhythm & Blues or R&B, when listening to a song for the first time my heart beats to the rhythm of the unknown. In the same regard, my brainwaves heighten my curiosity about what life unknowingly can offer every individual. When overwhelmed about my own trajectory in life, I’m reminded there are billions of others figuring it out simultaneously as myself. Though the journey feels lonely at times, we are never truly alone.

I was never the most social or extroverted person, but when the coronavirus pandemic hit, I realized how much we need each other to survive. Because without people the essence of human nature is lost. We thrive on helping each other, creating for one another, learning from one another, supporting one another, and the list goes on. Some may do so in the shadows, others in the spotlight. But human nature is thinking, feeling, and acting in a natural state. We all naturally think, feel, and act with each other and for one another in our own distinctive ways. This was hard for me to grasp at first because I did not know my distinctive way.

In college, most of us are searching for our individual purpose. Once I realized my purpose was not just my own, it became ever so clearer; I had the epic realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as my own. Every Goodnight Scholar is living a life in a vivid and complex way. But I needed to explore the intricacies of my vivid and complex life as it related to the vivid and complex lives of those around me. Once I gathered an understanding of sonder, I found myself more at ease as I moved closer to getting my bachelor’s degree because it was not just about the degree; it was about my college experience. So I explored my creative roots, ways to uniquely self-express myself, and discovered how to use my passions to positively infiltrate the lives of others.

Creatively I explored my love for dance at NC State and joined a hip-hop dance team called Fusion for my first 3 years here. After many years of shying away from being different, I discovered my love for fashion and am starting a clothing line with my own designs specifically targeting those who are afraid to stand out. Coming from a small independent school without many who looked like me, I mentored multiple underrepresented middle and high school students through the Women Minority and Engineering Program (WMEP), Developing STEM Identity in Rural Audiences through Community-based Engineering Design (DeSIRE) Program, and Ron Brown Program. These are just some core experiences aside from my academic, research, social, and internship experiences. The Goodnight Scholars Program surrounded me with sonder. The 200+ capable Goodnight STEM scholars from different journeys like myself, all came together to explore similar disciplines in different ways, while still sharing their hobbies, passions, and personalities openly. Without the support from the Goodnight Scholars Program, I would not have been able to explore freely and find my way through wonder.

College is a challenge, but sonder helped me find my place, peace, and purpose to live my truth.