One of the main goals of Black Student Support and Engagement (BSSE) is to create a sense of community, says Kimberly Daniels, manager, Equity and Student Life at Humber College. The Black Grad, which was held in June prior to the Spring 2023 Convocation, is a big part of that.
“It’s really important for the community to come together and to celebrate each other and the huge milestone that is graduation,” said Daniels. “We want to let the students who have been with us know that we’re proud of them and they still have a community here at Humber.”
Daniels said Humber does an excellent job with its convocation ceremonies. However, Black Grad offers a unique opportunity for the Black community to connect and share their post-secondary experiences.
“Gathering together as a group and understanding that there are really specific barriers that Black-identifying students face within post-secondary is so important,” said Daniels. “So, there is a connection over the understanding that they have overcome those barriers and have persevered through some of the situations we know Black-identifying students face in post-secondary. I also think it’s important to celebrate Black excellence and find some moments of joy as well.”
Zee Seon is a BSSE program assistant who is entering her fourth year in the Bachelor of Music program at Humber. Seon also helped with the Black Grad event including the night of the ceremony.
It was a celebration of Black excellence with keynote speakers from the Black community sharing their experiences and issues that they encountered when they left college and entered the work world.
Put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual event for Humber and the University of Guelph-Humber's Black-identifying students resumed this year. The event was an evening filled with celebration, food, music and more and highlighted the accomplishments of the students by acknowledging their triumphs, resilience, and success.
“This is something I’m definitely looking forward to attending when I graduate,” said Seon. “It felt a lot more personal of a graduation and strongly connected to the Black community. Being a part of the BSSE and helping put on the Black Grad felt like I was really helping Black students enjoy a more personalized graduation.”
There was culturally appropriate food from Black-owned restaurants, quotes on the tables from prominent members of the Black community and opportunities to network with current students and alumni.
Seon added that, for any Black-identifying students considering joining BSSE, it’s worth it. Seon said BSSE offers resources and supports as well as a sense of community and camaraderie, which can be important for students living away from home for the first time.
“Transitioning into post-secondary can be scary,” said Daniels. “It’s a big change. So, finding community and finding places that feel safer and comfortable is really important. Having an opportunity to create that space for Black-identifying students is an honour and it hopefully allows them to feel more connected, feel supported and know they have people here who will advocate and celebrate them.”
Find out more by visiting the BSSE website.