Let’s face it— Penn State students all share one general goal: the dream to create an unforgettable legacy. The immense impact of creating a legacy is vital to the Penn State culture, enabling students to find their true selves outside of the classroom.
Unforgettable, inspirational, brave and beautiful are the few words to describe Bisman Deol’s legacy at Penn State. Taking full advantage of his time at Penn State, Bisman Deol, a 22-year-old Penn State alum has redefined Penn State’s Students Teaching Students program, all in the pursuit of discovering his true self.
It was a really fulfilling way to wrap up my Penn State experience because I’m really big on the idea of leaving a positive legacy. This has been an idea that has grown on me a lot, because I think teaching this class and having students who learned and grew from it very much was the ultimate way to wrap up my Penn State experience.
Why Penn State?
Hailing all the way from the Bay Area in California, Deol has certainly received more than enough crazy looks for literally traveling across the country to pursue his degree.
However, Deol recalls, “I chose Penn State for their B.S. / M.D. program, because there’s really no colleges that offer that on the west coast anymore. That was a really big deciding factor for me. I was also influenced by my sister’s positive experiences at Penn State, so I thought this would be a cool experience.”
Ultimately, Deol ended up loving Penn State and all of the friends he met here. The countless amounts of opportunities for Deol to break out of his shell excited him, and he was overall very satisfied with his choice to continue his education in Happy Valley.
Why The Change In Major?
Like any college freshman, Deol dealt with a range of different emotions: homesickness, anxiety and stress. Originally, Deol was accepted into the B.S. / M.D. pre-medical program but found himself constantly questioning if his choice of major was right for him. His interests were not only limited to the STEM field, but also to the business industry and history.
After spending sleepless nights pondering whether to change his major, Deol finally made the change to a major in general sciences with a minor in economics and history. I know what you’re probably thinking—this is the weirdest combination ever. However, Deol has reasoning behind his major and minor choice. Deol remembers that:
The majority of the students involved in my Pre-Med program focused strictly on STEM classes. However, I understood the importance of balance within my major. I didn’t just want to take all STEM classes, because I also wanted to explore different interests of mine, like business and history. I enjoyed writing history papers—I looked at them to be actually really fun. I loved learning about the business of health administration—I was very engaged in these classes because it helped me explore a different route of medicine.
Why Teach CAS197: Criticism of Kanye?
Early in his college career, Deol took another hip hop class that was offered at Penn State but was disappointed by the lack of modern content covered throughout the semester. The course focused solely on old hip hop, like Tupac and Biggie Smalls, artists that were not as relevant during Deol’s time. Deol grew up listening to the most iconic rappers of the 2000s, like Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar.
Reflecting on the class, Deol wished that the course would have focused on modern rappers because they produced music that we all knew and loved. Born in ‘98, Deol did not grow up listening to rappers from the ‘80s and ‘90s, he grew up listening to the ones from the 2000s. In all, Deol mentions that these were the artists that revolutionized our perception of hip hop today. Why weren’t these artists being talked about in a classroom environment?
As a result of this, Deol decided he wanted to make a change. So, Deol and peer Cory Steinle decided to create their own class to express their creative ideas in the world of modern hip hop. Taking place every Thursday in Willard 169, students were whisked into the whimsical world of everything hip hop. Primarily using Kanye West as their main case study, the course explored the cultural, philosophical and rhetorical aspects of his music, as well as similar artists. This sparked unlimited thoughts and discussion between students, with the course relying on mostly class participating.
Deol shares that, “I was honestly blown away by the students and their participation in class. For example, there was a student that discussed how underground and SoundCloud rappers talk about different problems in our society today, even though they aren’t making millions of dollars off an album. I loved hearing students share their ideas, because it opened my mind to endless possibilities in the world of hip hop.”
As for Deol, he learned an abundance of information from not only instructing the class, but about the importance of opening your eyes to others’ perspectives.
Deol says, “I really divulged into the world of hip hop more as the class went on, because I was required to find pieces of work that supported the points I wanted to make in class. For example, we had to instruct students on the significance of the artist behind each song… because would “Stronger” by Kanye West have the same musical success and impact if it was sung by another artist?
I thought that really diving into these topics and finding other sources to support my claim not only strengthened my knowledge for hip hop, but also encouraged students to participate in class discussion and share their perspectives.
How Did You Find Your Identity Through Creating Such A Strong Legacy?
In Deol’s life, he has been far from average. From having the courage to create his own class and follow his passions, Deol ultimately broke away from the stereotype of just being another student at Penn State. He truly believed in the importance of creating a Penn State legacy—which he achieved through so many different platforms.
In his first-year experiences, Deol talked about how it was easy to get lost in the crowd. Deol recalls that his freshman year was filled with big classes, and these big classes never really gave him the chance to get close with his professors.
So, Deol says, “My junior year was really the year where I finally figured myself out. With the help of professor Cynthia Marrero-Ramos, I really found myself creating relationships and connecting with my professors.”
“To them, they didn’t look at me as just another number. Cynthia Marrero-Ramos soon became like a friend in my life, because I could talk to her about my problems and she would listen and give her advice. Through her courses I took, I learned about the importance of talking about things that people don’t like to talk about — like racism and inequality.”
Deol represents what it is to leave a true Penn State legacy—one that is inspiring, wonderful, and amazing.
So, what’s next for Deol? Since he is now a graduate of
Zoom University Penn State University, he plans to work as a financial advisor in Philadelphia. Down the road, he wants to get his Master of Business Administration to further his financial career.
VALLEY congratulates Bisman Deol on his amazing accomplishments through his college career and we wish him the best!