Students in Service and Leadership at Harvard

Samyra-Story of Me

Wazzam. Yerm. How's ya mom an' 'em? All of these are greetings you may hear in my hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana. And, before you ask, I DO NOT eat beignets for breakfast, nor do I party on Bourbon street every weekend. The thought of Bourbon Street actually scares me. New Orleans is known for its food, but also its music. I am a musician myself and a member of the third best A capella group in the Northeast region: The Harvard Lowkeys!

The service role that I will be focusing on is my position on the Harvard Black Student Association’s First-Year Black Table. The mission of the First-Year Black Table is “to foster community in the Black class of 2021.” In my role as Social Chair, I plan events that bring the black community together.
I am a first-year student, so I jumped into my service role rather quickly. I chose this role because, in my short time here at Harvard, I have heard the experiences of my peers who were not able to develop a strong sense of their identity at home. They rely on these groups in higher education as support in their self journey. However, many believe that the presence of cultural affinity groups on campuses furthers a racial divide and forces students to stick with “their own”. For my project I want to explore the different angles of involvement by black students in the black community here at Harvard and how their involvement, or lack thereof, helped or hindered their experience. Some students come from places where they were one of many black people or one of very few. Are those who were in predominantly black communities more likely to shelter themselves in the black community here? Are those who were one of few more likely to join a Black organization to explore their identity? Or do they not feel comfortable enough to join for fear of being noted as “‘bougie” for not knowing more about their identity? I want to explore these questions, but also expose the black community to not only these issues, but also solutions.

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