Rowan NAACP hosts “A Guide to Black Excellence in College”

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Students attending "A Guide to Black Excellence" settle into their seats. - Staff Writer / Maryela Gallardo

Multiple African-American organizations on campus gathered at Discovery Hall, room 413 on Feb. 7 from 8 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. to discuss amongst each other how to guide black students at Rowan to excellence. 

The event hosted by the Rowan National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was geared towards allowing black students, a space to discuss career tips, networking, relationship advice, and how to navigate through college. 

The discussion was also co-sponsored by the Women Color of Alliance (WOCA), BIPOC Graduate and Professional Student Association, and finally, Zeta Phi Beta. 

The Vice President of the NAACP, Jordan Valerie Barr, hoped that students would create connections with each other,

“We realized that there’s not a lot of opportunities out there for people of color. In the spirit of black history, we want to acknowledge that there’s black excellence…” said Barr. “…and there’s also people of color who have established a very good, successful business for themselves.” 

Organized by the NAACP, the co-sponsors also wanted to join the discussion because it gave them an opportunity to see where the student body stood in regard to their knowledge of college. The President of the BIPOC Graduate and Professional Student Association, Jamar Green, wanted to highlight the underrepresented students who are in higher education, as he said his experience as an undergraduate was different, 

“So as an undergrad, I have not had events like this. That’s why as a grad student in creating the first black and brown graduate organization on campus,” said Green. “It was really pivotal for me to create an org that did events like this to give them insight into why college is such a big thing.” 

The discussion consisted of different questions that had to do with navigating a predominantly white institution (PWI) as a black person, specifically as a black woman, as the experience is not the same for underrepresented students at Rowan. 

In a study conducted by the Data USA organization, in 2021, they found that there are 62.8% of white students at Rowan University, compared to the 10.1% of black or African-American students. This demonstrates that large gap, so for a lot of attendees, learning how to navigate through a PWI is important and relevant to what they experience at Rowan. 

One of the questions talked about the idea of black excellence, the president of NAACP, Esther Lendore stated that many times black excellence is said, but the definition can be glossed over. For black students on campus, it is important to find what that term really means, as Lendore stated, in order to learn how to get from average to excellent. 

Brianna Regan, the SGA president, says that being able to not always smile is a part of black excellence. She felt as if the idea to always stay strong was not realistic, and she told the group that there is a community for them to express themselves. 

“You can break down in front of us because sometimes we just can’t be as strong as we want to be and as strong as we’re extended to be by the society that we’re in,” said Regan. 

The topic of networking came up several times throughout the discussion, as for the attendees, especially those who are first-year students, it is crucial to get that advice on how to put your foot in the door early. Many of the attendees shared personal experiences of how just attending dinners or other events hosted by Rowan organizations, created internship opportunities for them. Simply conversing with people in high positions allowed for them to get their name out there. 

At the end of the discussion, Lendore closed it off with a synopsis of how to achieve black excellence, which was depicted in four steps. 

Firstly, learning how to establish connections with peers and professionals, utilizing resources provided by Rowan, asking for help, and establishing key habits such as time management and structure. 

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