(left to right) Professional Development chair Alexis Fort, Vice President Alexicia Kilgore, and President Ciara Johnson speak to students on Feb. 7 in the L.A. Pittenger Student Center. Demi Vaughn // DN Photo
New club promotes community support, engagement for African-American graduate students
A new club on campus is offering a strong community of support for students of African descent who are pursuing a graduate level degree at Ball State.
The Black Graduate Student Association, created by club president Ciara Johnson, was originally started in hopes to bridge the gap that currently exists between students and faculty of color at the university.
“I am a product of the communication studies undergraduate program at Ball State and during the first two years I studied here, I struggled to adjust to this new environment," Johnson said. "But the one thing that made my transition smoother was gaining a sense of community."
Now through BGSA, Johnson is trying to help other students of color feel that sense of community.
BGSA provides members with numerous benefits like providing resources essential for growth and professional development, increasing their professional network, educational opportunities, access to social events, attending national conferences, community services opportunities and a mentorship program.
“There has always been a lack of minority representation in higher education at predominantly white institutions," Johnson said. "This simple fact tends to make graduate school a lot tougher on black students, especially when they do not have access to the encouragement and mentorship they need. BGSA's mission is to provide a community of support to black students in hopes of ensuring their success before, during and after graduate studies so they can walk their career path with confidence and a sense purpose."
Currently, BGSA is one of 10 graduate student programs offered at Ball State, with this year being the first active year of the organization on campus.
While BGSA’s main target audience is black graduate students, Johnson said it is extremely important to BGSA to express that they are an inclusive organization and that all students of different backgrounds are welcome to join. Even though the club is specifically created for graduate students, undergraduates are also welcomed, she added.
BGSA is currently having a special social media campaign to express their love for culture and diversity and the importance of Black History Month with the hashtag #ILoveBHM. Treats will be offered out to everyone who participates in the campaign.