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BW Black alumni gathering unites community, celebrates success

Their affection and affinity are heartfelt and genuine. They are united in a mission to pay it forward. For attendees of this year's Black Alumni Weekend, the experience was an immersion into friendship, joy, commitment and vision.

BW Black Alumni Weekend attendees
Alumni and students unite in forming new bonds and friendships.

On April 12-14, approximately 100 BW alumni, faculty, staff and students gathered on and off campus for a weekend of social, educational and fundraising events. It was a celebration that brought to fruition the hard work and dedication of a group of individuals belonging to the Black Alumni Network, a 3-year-old organization whose goals and engagement reflect support of Baldwin Wallace graduates and students.

Sharing experiences and building community

Bob Helmer with an alumna
BW president Bob Helmer with alumna Angela Miller

"It's important to have a strong Black alumni community at BW because students need support, and alumni need to pour back into our future leaders," believes Armand Rivers '15.

"I got involved with the Black Alumni Network because I saw the challenges Black students were having on campus academically, socially and professionally. We want to see Black students have a positive college experience and transition into the workforce successfully," said Rivers.

That same vision is shared by Margaret Harris '84, who came to BW from the Cleveland Public Schools. Seeing students of color experience injustice made its mark and spurred her to want to create a more equitable future for later generations.

Among its goals, the Black Alumni Network focuses on the well-being of Black students in areas of inclusivity, equity and social accountability. Seeing BW move forward in these areas is a welcoming sign of progress Harris thinks will serve the university well in the decades ahead.

She went on to say that student support in all areas of their personal, academic and professional growth is something members of the Black Alumni Network see as essential in their role of paying it forward. "It is important to be able to share the unique experiences of student life and culture as a Black person matriculating at BW. In addition, it is important that current students see that we have overcome many of the same challenges and that they are not alone."

Creating a legacy for future generations

Socializing at Black Alumni Weekend
Peggy Woodson '93 and Diedre Wilson '88

Deanna Loggins '18 remembers what it was like to be a first-year college student living far away from home, seeking new experiences, friendships and opportunities. She came to BW from Chicago and joined BW's Black Student Alliance (BSA), where she made friends with Kia Grayson '18.

As graduation drew near, Loggins and Grayson, along with members of the 2017-18 BSA executive board, wanted to continue the strong bonds they made with other students and alumni.

"We were just some passionate students who loved the community BW created for us and wanted to keep it going," recalled Loggins.

What began with Facebook and Instagram accounts to connect individuals later transformed into a formalized organization called the Black Alumni Network. Under its umbrella are four pillars — social, scholarship, mentorship and social accountability — which guide the organization in engaging its members and current BW students.

To date, the Network has awarded financial scholarships to students through the Black Student Alliance Alumni Scholarship. It is also in the process of launching a mentorship program that will connect alumni to students and will be working with BW's Center for Inclusion and Office of Spiritual Life to implement a Day of Racial Healing in 2025.

Having fun at Black Alumni Weekend
BW student Maya Polk '25 having fun.

For Loggins, there is a rewarding and joyful feeling in seeing the Network flourish. "The Black community on campus has been growing, and BW is becoming more diverse as the years go on. It's important that students have a support system from people who walked the same halls and shared similar experiences."

"For alumni, the Black Alumni Network is an opportunity to grow in service and connect with people, both personally or professionally, over a span of generations who have all shared the BW experience. We plan to have more events in the future, and we invite alumni to join us in strengthening our hive," said Loggins.

Black Alumni Network welcomes new members

The Black Alumni Network offers social, professional and philanthropic activities and initiatives. The organization is led by a diverse group of alumni volunteers representing several generations. The Network provides alumni with an opportunity to assist students as well as re-establish lifelong friendships and engage in meaningful service.

To learn more about the Black Alumni Network, please contact bwblackalumninetwork@gmail.com. To join the email list, sign up here.

Black Alumni Network leaders
Black Alumni Network leaders (l-r): Tara Durgans '83, Kia Grayson '18, Deanna Loggins '18, Armand Rivers '15, Margaret Harris '84

 

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