In an emotional ceremony on June 14, members of The Black Academic Success and Engagement (BASE) program were honoured in a graduation ceremony at Humber’s Lakeshore campus.
Humber faculty, staff, guest speakers and BASE alumni were in attendance to give remarks to wish students well, mingle and enjoy cake and refreshments after the intimate ceremony. Graduating students received certificates and a graduation stole. Stoles marking academic achievement are often personalized for different communities, like fraternities or academic societies. The BASE decided to use patterns that reflect African Caribbean communities.
Student Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Coordinator for The BASE Yamikani Msosa said she couldn’t be more pleased with the afternoon. “We talk about recruitment and retention, but to be able to celebrate something like this is amazing,” she said.
In her opening remarks to the ceremony, Msosa described The BASE as a place where students come to study and build lifelong friendships, and noted it’s often a space where students have a first point of contact with an administrator at the college. Formerly known as The Bridge, The BASE provides students who identify as Black with a community, resources and support to help them fully maximize on their college experience and to graduate.
Neil Price, Associate Dean of the Faculty of Social and Community Services and long-time supporter of The BASE, spoke during the ceremony about the importance of celebrating Black success, and staying connected to community. “I hope that you’ll take time to thank those who helped you get here,” he remarked. “Stay connected and ask for support when you need it.” He encouraged students to stay open-minded, and continue to support others. “Be bold in your next steps.”
Graduate N’ttendre Cox’s speech brought tears to many in the room as she described the impact that being a part of The BASE had on her experience at Humber. “I was introduced to things I never would have been a part of if I had just stayed within my own circle, and within myself,” she said. “I came this close to dropping out. The BASE helped to build and connect me on so many levels. I’m so thankful to the programs, the workshops, and for a place for students to just grow and be themselves. I’m grateful to be here today to celebrate this milestone.”
Comedy Writing and Performance graduate Cyrus Chase shared a heartfelt letter to his BASE friends as part of the ceremony. “I just felt a huge amount of gratitude,” Chase said. “I wrote it to say, ‘thank you for helping me grow—spiritually, mentally and emotionally.’” Chase said joining The BASE gave him the opportunity to learn more about himself and gain friends outside his program. “The last two years have been amazing.”
Dean of Students Ian Crookshank noted that there aren’t many institutions that name support for Black students. “I think that matters,” he said. “You get real pride and hope and conversation, because people are able to see themselves in the space. You’re seeing a real celebration today in a place that people feel is theirs.”
“We’re the only postsecondary program in Ontario that has a program like The BASE,” Msosa said. “When you think of it in that context, it’s a really big deal that we’re able to hold space in such an intentional way. We’re on both campuses, with full-time coordinators and the infrastructure.”
“It’s the first ceremony so it’s small, but I can’t wait to see what it’s going to look like, and how it’s going to grow,” Msosa said.