The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

    Black student union hosts day of engagement


    Sleepy-eyed students toting cups of coffee, chattering bushy squirrels, and grasses blowing softly in the breeze could all be seen and heard on the cool, early morning of Saturday the 22nd. 

    To the average passerby, the proceedings of Sonoma State appeared calm; to members of Sonoma State’s Black Student Union and prominent figures of our community, their morning was nothing short of powerful and salient. 

    For the first time ever, Sonoma County’s Black Forum and members of the Black Student Union hosted a day of engagement. Their annual Youth Summit was considered a success by most everyone. 

    “We’re trying to reach out,” said Sonoma County Black Forum member, Regina Brennan, “to people of color and all people, so we can be a better, stronger community.”

    “We wanted to give the students opportunities,” Brennan continued, “not only for a career and college fair, but also opportunities to learn new skills, to connect with each other, and to figure out how to make this world – this community – better, stronger.”

    Among the dancers, singers and networking crowd engaged in enthusiastic conversations, there were parents, students and community members from all over, specifically from Windsor High, Sacramento, and Oakland Tech. An 8-year-old boy was even said to have attended alongside his older sister. 

    Topics like leadership, education, technology and entrepreneurship were all well considered and addressed throughout the active discussions featured that day. Ultimately, the main focus was on making connections and enjoying new experiences.

    Workshops also helped students to gain confidence and skills in areas such as coding, financial literacy and their transition from high school to college.

    Additionally, according to volunteers and attendants, keynote speakers, panels of current and graduate college students and prominent figures such as Tyler-Avery Louis, this year’s Miss Sonoma County, really served to empower and inspire the students. 

    On their opinion of the event, first-year psychology majors and members of Sonoma State’s BSU Gabby Bright and Jasmine Carter had a lot to share.

    “It’s good for the high schoolers,” said Bright, “It gives them a sense of community before they get here. When I first got here… it was definitely a culture shock.” 

    Carter agreed that, “It was definitely a success. A lot of kids showed up, it seemed like they’re taking away a lot. I think if this continues on for years it will definitely improve how many African American students go to college and are successful when they get there.”

    Both girls are currently enjoying their stay in Sonoma State’s V.I.B.E.S housing. 

    Created, in part, by Tramaine Austin-Dillon, a staff member of Sonoma State’s Residential Life programs, the Visionaries Inspiring Black Educated Students community was intended to accomplish a goal not unlike the 2018 Youth Summits.

    Austin-Dillon specified that the brand-new community was, “designed to provide leadership, community, guidance and a living space for students that identify with or are in support of the Black/Pan-African Community at SSU. 

    Similarly, the Sonoma County Black Forum was organized and thrown into effect just last year, in the August of 2017.

    “We came together because we felt that our youths are a little underrepresented,” said Claudia De La Pena, member of the Sonoma County Black Forum.

    “Our mission,” added Brennan, “is to be advocates of the youths of the community, and community as a whole.”

    The event, in truth, really was a community effort. Deep gratitude was expressed by the event’s organizers to the support of President Judy Sakaki, the Community Engagement Fund, the Santa Rosa City School district, and the efforts of volunteers and many others. 

    As for the future of the annual Youth Summit, Brennan added, “we’re hoping that this is something that BSU students will take on and make their own.” 

    Considering that – according to Carter, “it seemed like everyone was really close even though they were strangers when they got there,” the next annual Youth Summit should be something to get excited about.

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