Dr. Cookie Garrett & LaRon McCoy
The Sankofa Scholars program and The Black Student Success Center collaborated with the Black Excellence Project, the Alliance for Black Culture, and the African Ancestry Faculty and Staff Association to support Black students applying for scholarships. We held “Black at the Bay Scholarship Palooza” in the Mountain Lion Room of CSU East Bay’s new CORE building. With the assistance of Brie Gardley, our Financial Aid Scholarship Specialist, and a host of other faculty and staff, many students were able to complete and submit scholarship applications.
By coming together as a collective, we created a welcoming, supportive space for scholars. The timing of the event was strategically chosen to offer students a wide range of drop-in hours, so students could come after class, work or between other obligations they may have. We supplied food so students would not miss meals while getting help with their scholarship applications. Faculty and staff gave their time and expertise to guide scholars through scholarship application checklists, help them understand “hidden curriculum”, suggest key words and phrases for memorable, impactful “My Story” statements and application essays. Students received one-on-one support throughout their time in the Black at the Bay Scholarship-Palooza event.
What seemed to be most impactful for the scholars participating in the Scholarship Palooza event was the sense of community. Scholars enjoyed accomplishing their goals alongside their friends and peers as much as they appreciated the resources, support, and encouragement they received from faculty and staff. Instead of code switching, or fitting their self-expression to school expectations, the event encouraged Black students to be their authentic selves, something they don’t typically experience in the University setting. Providing wrap-around services for our Black scholars was our most important achievement: we provided participants a welcoming space in which to reach for their academic goals while receiving all the support we could give them. The Black at the Bay Scholarship Palooza was an exciting, positive experience for our scholars and one we will repeat, moving forward, to help more scholars reach for their goals as well.