BGSA has plans to bring students together

Members of the Black Graduate Student Association hope to provide mentorship, professional development and career planning to students.

  1. James Griffin, TRiO adviser as well as former member of BGSA, asked Zachary Booth, the current president, as well as Maliya Smith, the vice president and Secia Larnce, the secretary and treasurer, to join the program.

“This is a very impactful program because it’s gathering African-Americans on campus that are graduate students and it is giving them a home and a place to mingle with one another,” said Smith, who is studying clinical mental health counseling. “Our goal is also to promote to the undergraduate African-American students about what graduate school is, and give them that life and that guide.”

The program helps students create cover letters and resumes for undergraduates as well as graduates. They help inform them on how to get scholarships as well as graduate assistantships.

It also hosts different events that educate undergrads on the admission process and how to be prepared when applying for graduate school.

“I love that BGSA gives black students a way to come together,” Larnce, who is studying health promotion and leadership, said.

Booth believes this program establishes a safe space for students of color.

It can be used a safe-haven for the members, he said.

Smith said the program helps prepare students for the graduate lifestyle, while also giving the graduate students on campus a home.

“Being in a predominantly white institution versus being in the real world is very different for us, I feel like having people of color to communicate with and understand you is such a great thing, and that’s what we strive for,” Smith said.

Through her assistantship, she advises students in the Gateway program.

Since joining the program, Smith has been awarded the $4,000 Paul Ward Memorial Scholarship.

She was also awarded $13,000 through the Diversifying Higher Education Faculty in Illinois Fellowship that she said she can use in developing her career.

“Through this program I hope to gain a self. I hope to be able to go into the real world and change the lives of the people I have touched,” Smith said.

Torri Griffith can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].