Different, funny, and informative. Although these are three words I would use to describe my friend Desirae, these are the same words that describe her YouTube channel. Centering on her experience at WashU, Desirae Bartos, a rising sophomore, and my first ever roommate, gives her audience a lens into life as a WashU undergrad. This black queen hails from New York City and is studying on the Pre-Med track with a focus on health care management. In other words, she is enrolled in Arts & Sciences and—unofficially—the Olin Business School.
When asked why she started developing content on YouTube, Desirae was very transparent in her answer, stating that there was a lack of sufficient and diverse content in the YouTube community about WashU. She remembers frantically looking for videos online before her start of undergrad. There was merely one channel that was hosted by a white male student—limiting what knowledge and experience she could anticipate as a young black woman at Washington University in St. Louis. The start of her channel was based on the purpose of illustrating diversity at WashU. Desirae says that she wants to show that “there are black women succeeding here and representation is super important”.
Desirae’s intended audience is “anyone interested in WashU”. She has been approached by students who were current first-years and has received virtual feedback online from recently admitted students to the institution. Her YouTube channel has become a catalyst for dialogue surrounding what it means to be a black student at Washington University.
While creating this YouTube channel, Desirae learned that “the best time to film is at 2am”, especially for sit-down videos. She advises that “you have to find a niche[…]you cannot post random videos[…]you have to find something that you can focus on” and enhance as your own producer. She also laughs, as she says it’s “really really hard to find time to film when you’re a full-time student as well”. But she makes her schedule work for her.
Desirae really enjoys the flexibility of her responsibility as a YouTuber, as she can post when it best suits her own schedule. She also loves when people engage with her via comments. She reads one of the comments during our interview:
I love this video so much and I love your personality! I am going to apply ED to WashU.
She replies to that comment, as she does with most of them, encouraging that student about their application. The only challenge that she is posed while developing content is the pressure of being solely responsible for all the behind-the-scenes work. She is brainstorming ideas, recording, editing, and uploading the content. Desirae realizes the difficulty of consistently creating entertaining videos for a growing audience. Her motivation and advice to the readers is that one should posts and upload content because one enjoys it. Not because of the off chance that one may receive fame. Her WashU fame came as a side effect of being her genuine self online.
I share this with you because I know reading about WashU, even if its from current students, is not the only way to learn and understand the community here. Desirae is just one of the many students at WashU that have taken on the responsibility of sharing college life with a bigger audience. I hope you find time to watch her channel at some point, especially during those YouTube holes that we all tend to fall.
Until next time:
Have a beautiful day!