Paving the Way
By Lauren Lennon
When I initially arrived at the University of Miami, there was no question that I wanted to be a part of something bigger, and leave a lasting impression on the community. Yet, I was no stranger to the fact that I was a minority; and knew I would find myself in spaces where I was the only African American female—nothing new.
At times, my racial and gender identity has had a negative effect on my aspirations and motivation. However, when I saw Abigail Adeleke, the current President of UM’s Student Government, my hope within was ignited. Not only an internal hope, but hope that other individuals would see her as inspirational.
Adeleke won the presidential election during my freshman year. She was one of the first Black/African-American women on campus who inspired me to aim high. I’m not the only one who felt this way after her election. Students of color across campus were given the same amount of hope that I felt, when Adeleke was elected.
Now, a year later we are able to see two more prominent Black student leaders run for president and vice president of student government. What better time to see representation and excellence than during Black History Month?
Rising juniors Landon Coles and Ajiri Uzere, are running for the president and vice president positions on the student government executive board. Their campaign, The U.P.R.O.A.R, has become a positive and notable acronym that stands for “Unity, Progress, Resources, Opportunities, Action, and Reliable.” These six pillars, exemplify the pair’s goals for this upcoming year if elected.
At a glance, this may just seem like a strong election ticket, however, to me it is a continuation of the legacy that Adeleke began just one year ago. A few of my peers feel the same way.
Sophomore, Kristophe Smith-Walker, defined being a Black student leader on campus as “paving a way for future students of color to come.” Regarding representation, Smith-Walker adds that “seeing Abigail, Landon, and Ajiri in the highest student leadership positions on campus confirms the message that there are no limits to the positions that students of color can pursue.''
Sophomore, Asia Chester, had similar thoughts about the diversity of the candidates.
Chester said “it is encouraging and inspiring to see Abigail and soon to be others in such high positions.”
Both Chester and Smith-Walker remain optimistic about the future of the school in terms of diversity and are elated to see so many Black student leaders pave the way for more to come.
There is no doubt that being a minority on a predominantly white campus has its challenges. It is these small victories reflected in this group of Black student leaders that we should always continue to celebrate.
As a community, we should strive to become better and pave the way for those to come after us. Generations before us paved the way, Adeleke paved the way and the Black student leaders on campus continue to pave the way today.