Saturday, August 8, 2020

Tyler Oakley returns home to MSU

October 23, 2017
2017 Homecoming Grand Marshall Tyler Oakley poses with MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon before the Homecoming Parade on Oct. 20, 2017 through East Lansing.
2017 Homecoming Grand Marshall Tyler Oakley poses with MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon before the Homecoming Parade on Oct. 20, 2017 through East Lansing. —
Photo by Anntaninna Biondo | The State News

YouTuber, author, activist and MSU alumnus Tyler Oakley returned to campus as the 2017 Homecoming grand marshal and he couldn’t be more excited to be back.

Oakley graduated from MSU six years ago and since then he has become one of the most influential LGBTQ+ vloggers and an A-lister in the digital age with almost eight million subscribers on YouTube. 

Oakley began creating content on YouTube as a freshman at MSU to keep in contact with high school friends, who had all gone their separate ways for college.

“It was just my way of sharing my life and then I kept making videos,” he said. 

Oakley said his first video to his friends was an introduction to his dormitory life and from then that’s what most of his content contained. 

“It kind of was a perfect storm of a life that I found interesting to share, a platform to share it on and the skillset that I was learning here,” he said.

The alumnus attributes his interpersonal communication degree, marketing classes and teacher assistant position at MSU to his passion that he has today. 

“So much of my work ethic I think I got from MSU, so much of what I studied goes into what I do every day,” Oakley said. “All of these things I think shaped my passions, then the fact that I had such a fun time at MSU gave me the stuff to talk about in my YouTube videos.”

Oakley recalls having the best experiences while on campus and said when he hears his friends talking about their bad encounters in high school or college, he just can’t relate.

“I would go back in a heartbeat,” he said.

The worst experience Oakley can recall in college is having to wake up at 9 a.m. for class, but he says his favorite experiences were: starting his YouTube channel, finding his platform to comfortably create content and becoming a resident assistant in East Wilson Hall.

“Everything about my time at MSU, I loved. It’s more hard to find something that was difficult,” he said.

Oakley was an RA for more than three years and said he met people in college, such as his RA friends, that he still remains close with. They go on vacations with each other every year and they’ll also be attending the homecoming game with him.

MSU graduate Roberta Schimmel said in a tweet, Oakley was her RA when she was a freshmen and he was an always a supportive person.

Oakley said he attributes his success to the privileges he has, that other people do not and his parents that gave support but influenced him be independent since the age of 14.

“I’ve always had a job and paid for my college stuff … I did not have any scholarships or anything, I just was not that student so it took a lot of hard work,” he said. “I think I’m really stubborn in a good way sometimes, where once I want to do something or once I want something to happen I won’t give up until it does, for better or for worse.”

Oakley said there was never a time where he questioned whether or not he should finish school and just create content for YouTube full time because the experiences weren’t worth throwing away. 

“My advice to every YouTuber who is young is like, do not quit school,” he said. “There’s like life experiences that you can’t get anywhere else and if I were to have skipped my experiences at MSU, I wouldn’t have had the content to talk about in a video.”

Oakley said he wants to be able to help MSU students who desire to have his same platform one day.

“The coolest thing is the people in this building have so much potential and they’re going to become so many great things, if there is ever any way I could help of course I want to,” he said.

Oakley said MSU has given him so much inside and outside of the classroom over the years and he agrees that it’s changed his life forever. 

“I couldn’t have been where I am today without all my MSU stuff," he explained.

Oakley said he could have never predicted the success this last year has brought him but he’s along for the ride and hopes for more accomplishments in the years to come. 

“I want to create more as long as I love it, I want to write more as long as I still love it. At the end of the day I just want to be able to connect with people in a meaningful way,” he said. 

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