|The magazine of University of Houston-Clear Lake
Spring/Summer 2013 | volume 19 | number 2
Be the Change
Created to promote awareness of African heritage and engage with other cultural organizations, the Black Students Association is a 20-member group with a powerful mission. The UHCL chapter was established in 2003 and is currently led by President Tomeka Blanks.
“We are open to everyone and anyone can join, as long as they are UHCL students or alumni,” says Blanks. “We’re the best kept secret on campus.”
As president, Blanks focused her efforts on growing the association’s membership through outreach projects, events and activities with a vision of uniting people on campus and in the community. Guiding that goal was Blank’s personal vision to foster leadership skills that members will take beyond campus.
Active attendance at meetings is strongly encouraged and on-campus activities help members connect with students and alumni of all races for academic and social engagement. Membership also offers graduation cords earned through community service along with a chance to learn about African heritage.
“I know a lot about the history and culture of Black Americans, and I enjoy being able to share that with other people,” says Blanks.
The association provides members opportunities for learning and leadership. For computer information systems and association member Joseph Obededuo, such involvement has already enriched his educational experience.
“Through collaborations with other students and nonprofit organizations, I have benefitted by learning to work with large groups comfortably, improving my networking abilities and having the opportunity to serve my community and the UHCL family,” says Obededuo.
Part of the association’s contribution to student life and community outreach includes honoring national Black History Month in February with events such as educational lectures, cultural displays and demonstrations, as well as historical reflections on the achievements and struggles of Black/African Americans. This year’s national theme was “The 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.” Events focused on family, faith and community, success in the workplace and educational disparity.
Last year, the association won “The Biggest Oinker” contest, a fundraiser sponsored by the universitywide Be The Change campaign. Open to all student organizations, the contest tallied up a total of 179 pounds of donations. BSA’s winning entry included 100 rolls of pennies, for a total of 60 pounds. Funds raised go to the university’s student programming to provide support for students.
Looking forward, plans are being discussed to hold a 10-year reunion and anniversary ball, and possibly the association’s first Juneteenth Celebration.
“It’s so fulfilling to help unite people on campus,” says Blanks, who completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology in spring 2013. She plans to enroll in the university’s industrial organizational psychology graduate program and pursue her goal of becoming a human resources director.
“I believe that being a leader and organizer of a group gives me the skills to be able to understand the needs of different people in an organization, and be able to meet their needs.”
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