Few people meeting the cheerful, well-spoken Deanna Monroe would guess that she felt like she didn’t fit in during much of her childhood.
But Monroe grew up in a home where she never had the latest shoes or the trendiest clothes. As a result, she was often made fun of by other children, making her feel like an outcast until she reached college.
“I feel like I was born in the wrong generation,” said, Monroe, a senior media studies major at the University of Missouri–Louis. “I don’t party. I don’t drink or smoke. I don’t go out to clubs. I’m still an outcast because I don’t do a lot of the things that my generation does.”
The difference is that today, Monroe is OK with the fact that she doesn’t follow the crowd. She even wears the outcast label proudly on her shirt through her own clothing line, Certified OutKast. In addition to designing her logo, Monroe set up shop through Big Cartel, which provides an online store and distribution for clothing designers, jewelry makers, musicians and other artists. Monroe is selling T-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies with her design, and hopes to expand to hats and kids’ wear.
The business name and the image of the two fists came to her as a way to symbolize that people shouldn’t be afraid to decide not to follow the crowd. Right now, she wants people to get the message that they should be themselves and focus on what makes them unique, rather than being a conformist.
“It’s about being a rebel in a positive sense,” Monroe said. “Doing your own thing in your own way and blazing your own path no matter how awkward it seems or how outlandish it might be.”
In addition to working on her clothing brand, Monroe is also a DJ at The U, UMSL’s student-run radio station. Much of her free energy goes into following current events and social issues. Her program, “The Monroe Show,” runs Tuesdays from noon to 2 p.m. and Sundays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., and often tackles tough topics like the death of Trayvon Martin.
Monroe was able to turn her view of being an outcast into a positive trait through the presence of healthy role models who helped her understand what her own strengths were. Jacqueline Thompson, assistant professor of theater and dance, was one of those figures. Thompson said she has been impressed with Monroe’s social awareness and enthusiasm.
“Deanna is the most socially conscious student I know,” she said. “She is passionate about affecting social change and promoting positivity throughout the campus and city.”