Young man smiles posing on rocky ground by body of water

Hawaii, Thailand, the Philippines, OU

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By Alexandra Laird

Steven Sturtevant is a a transfer student, sophomore at Oakland University in his first semester here, studying management information systems. He plans on obtaining a career somewhere warm year round. 

Sturtevant and his family have had a long journey so we decided to ask some questions.

AL: How did your parents meet? 

Sturtevant: My parents met at a bar in Hawaii because that’s where my father was based when he was in the Air Force.

AL: Where has your family lived? Did you always live together? 

Sturtevant: My parents lived in Michigan, Hawaii, Thailand, and Philippines. We’ve always lived together until they got a divorce.

AL: Describe the place or places where you grew up. What was your life like there? 

Sturtevant: I was born in Hawaii and lived there for two years. Then I moved to Thailand where I stayed with my mother for eight years, I lived in a gated community and attended a private school. School tuitions were as expensive as college tuitions in the United States. I remember the streets were always crowded with people. During my time in Thailand, they didn’t have lanes or traffic laws on the road.

I then moved to the Philippines to live with my dad since my parents got divorced. My dad won full custody over me and enrolled me to go to schools in the Philippines. The lifestyle in the Philippines was quite similar compared to Thailand. I didn’t do so well because of the language barrier, and after two failing years of school my dad decided it was best for me to finish my education here in the United States.

AL: Who came with you? Who did you leave behind? Why? 

Sturtevant: My brother came with me since he went through the same situations I did, due to our parents divorce. I left my mother behind because she lost custody to both of us.

AL: How has your family changed over time? 

Sturtevant: My family has become more distant over time. I haven’t seen my mom in 10 years and my dad sent my brother and I to Michigan, so we barely get to see him as well. I’m hoping I can save up money and one day see my mom in Thailand.

AL: How did you feel when you left? 

Sturtevant: I was 10 years old and I didn’t know much of what was going on until I was 16 years old. Growing up with a lot happening around me, I’ve learned to become stronger mentally and I look forward rather than behind, to keep myself happy.

AL: Describe how your life is different where you live now. 

Sturtevant: I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like if I [had] stayed in the Philippines or Thailand. I don’t know if I would be going to college as we speak. What was different between where I live and used to live was the social class system in Thailand and Philippines. People in the United States complain about minimum wage but those people overseas are struggling more to make a living there. Minimum wage is not even close to a dollar and I don’t know how I would’ve been able to climb up to the top. The experience is quite unique, but I’m happy with where I live currently.

AL: What do you want your family to know about you? 

Sturtevant: I want my family to know that I’ve been through a lot during my childhood and I’m still looking forward to coming out on top and succeeding in life.

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