Interview with Tammy Hayes-Hill

Tammy Hayes-Hill was 47 at the time of the interview, which was on November 8, 2010, and has lived in North Carolina her entire life.  Both her parents were farmers, so she learned the value of hard work at an early age.  She is part white, part African American, and part Native American, more specifically the Occoneechee tribe.  She has worked at Elon University for around 10 years, and if anyone ever has a problem needing solving in Residence Life, Tammy probably knows about it and is helping solve it in some way, shape or form.  She has one child, Brett, who is 22, and a husband, Gary, who works in Physical Plant in Elon as well.

Tammy on Family

Tammy’s brothers were among the first in NC to be integrated into primarily white schools as minorities.  In response to a question about whether she worried about them, Tammy said:

“I didn’t because I was so young.  Just hearing stories as I grew up, yes, I feel like there were some tense times, there were a lot of derogatory and very degrading words that I heard, that were thrown at my brothers and that were said to them.  And yes, as an ethnic person, even to this day you are in fear of your life all the time. And I know that sounds extreme, but you have to really understand, that even though civil rights are there, but it’s almost like you’re in fear that at any time they could be taken away from you.”

Listen to the audio of Tammy’s response:

Tammy on Farm Work

Since farming went back multiple generations on both sides of her family, she was always helping out one of her family members with a farm related task.

“And on the farm, it was always something to do.  If it wasn’t helping in the fields, which in the summer time was a big thing, it was the matter of taking care of whatever needed to be taken care of around the house, around the barn.  I will say at the stores we were always packing soda boxes, we would always have to wipe off counters, if someone came in and you needed to prepare an order of food, even though back then children should not have been doing that, you would chip in and do that.  If it was a time that we were out of school, going in the morning like at five and six o’clock and preparing onions and tea, and preparing the food to be served at the restaurant.  In the summer time you always had to work in tobacco. So we were at the barn, and the girls would stay at the barn to do the tying of the tobacco, and the men would go out and pull the tobacco, and that was an all-day process.  So it was never a time that you didn’t have things to do.”

Listen to the audio of  Tammy’s response about farm work:

Tammy on Work

When asked about what her happiest moment at Elon was, Tammy replied:

“Oh, my happiest moment.  Gosh, there is so many.  I think it’s just the everyday feeling of being valued.  You know, happy moments are like when I see students graduating on graduation day and remembering them as a freshman, and then they have that senior swagger, that confidence and that you know that even though they’re leaving, that you had a special time with them.  And I’ll get a little misty, when I think about that.”

Listen to the audio excerpt:

Tammy on Leisure

When asked about what she did in her free time, Tammy replied:

“Well, I work a lot with my tribe, the Occoneechee tribe, we’re based out of Mebane, and we’re a non-profit.  So, a lot of work with them, there are meetings, there’s a lot of planning that we do.  With being a non-profit we’re always in that fund-raising mode because we survive off of grants and donations and that’s really a lot of time consuming work, but very fulfilling.  You can always find something to do.  Also, I’m part of the Alamance County Astronomy Club, and that is just a great outlet if you’re interested in astronomy, whether you have a total scientific knowledge, or you’re someone just interested in what’s going on in the sky and identifying stuff.  So, I really enjoy that as well as trying my best to connect with my family, working from 7:15 and not getting home till six o’clock, a lot of times I never see my neighbors, even though my in-laws live next door, you’re lucky to get a phone call in to them maybe two or three times a week, so there are a lot things where I catch up on as far as phone calls or going to see people, and being indigenous, I have a lot of relatives around that I really like to stay in touch with.”

Listen to the audio:

Tammy on Traveling

Tammy has never been on a plane, but she still wants to travel.

“No, need to do a lot.  I haven’t had those opportunities; I would love to go everywhere.  I have never flown, and not that that I’m afraid to because I would get on a plane in a heartbeat [laughs], so if there was a space shuttle, yes, I’m there.  Now, I’m not going to go on a cruise, I’ll tell you that.  Water and with me not swimming [AB: And all that recent news anyway.] Well, yes [laughs].  You know, not that I have anything against Spam, not a meal of choice.”

Listen to the audio of Tammy’s response:

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