HOCO: RUBAN Hosts First Fellowship Breakfast After 3-Year Hiatus

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After a three-year hiatus, Rowan University’s Black Alumni Network (RUBAN) hosted their commemorative Paul A. Hilton ’83 Fellowship Breakfast at the Eynon Ballroom in the Chamberlain Student Center to cap homecoming weekend.

Named after the late founder of RUBAN, the event brought together alumni from decades past and current students, standing as a celebration of the black experience and success at Rowan University.

The event served as a space to honor the outstanding work of esteemed alumni and current students making a change on campus, with several awards being presented. Outstanding alumni honorees at the event included Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Trymaine Lee, Richard and Stacey Wilson, founders of Banneker Charter School, and judge James P. Wilson of the Union County court system, who also gave the keynote address.

“All of these years later, understanding who we are and making sure that we are representations of our race and our people, and doing so with great pride, and learning to tell our stories in a way that pushes the needle in some way. When the story ends and students and researchers are engaging with what it was like to be black at this time, they’ll come across my name and find the truth. And so for me, that’s always been a guiding light for me. Our people,” said Trymaine Lee during his award speech.

Along with the alumni honorees, RUBAN introduced a new award for current students making a change in the black community called the Emerging Leader Award, which was given to senior Michael Nash, co-founder of the Men of Color Alliance, and Vice President of the Black Student Union.

“I feel blessed and honored to be in a place where my peers, faculty, staff, and people with major titles behind their names can see me as a worthy recipient of the inaugural year of this award. It really brought tears to my eyes,” said Nash.

Vocal performances graced the stage between speeches as students Cierra Jones and Gustavo Andres gave vocal performances during the proceedings.

Other speakers included Jeanine Frisby LaRue and Chris D’Angelo, with the invocation and closing benediction being given by Cheryl Riggins Swain.

The breakfast was the first physical meeting hosted by the RUBAN since the pandemic and served as a reunion for many of the ‘Divine Nine’ fraternities and sororities.

The event served as a bridge between the old and new, and a family union for the extended Rowan University black diaspora, with many connections being made between today’s students and the successes that walked the campus in the years prior.

“This a collective effort, and if we want to make any noise or progress we have to do it together,” said Michael Nash, “…The alumnus from Glassboro State and we have the ideas, the manpower, and the energy. Together we can do a lot to bring a lot of opportunities to black students.”

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