By Day’Jah Williams, Staff Writer–
Black Alumni Voices was hosted to bring awareness, insight and education to students by having alumni share words of wisdom and stories from their past.
The panel consisted of six Black alumni, Dr. Pamela Ross- class of 1987, Rosalynn Philips- class of 1999, Kenneth Herring- class of 2004, Erroll Wynn- class of 2011, Robert Fisher- class of 2015 and Dominique Malone class of 2019.
Each of the panelists was heavily involved with their time at UTC while being active in organizations such as the NPHC Divine Nine, various sports, student government, Black Student Alliance.
The webinar began with the panelists answering the question, “How did your student experience at UTC shape your life personally and professionally?”
Ross began the discussion by stating that she wanted “access to the entire world,” and UTC provided that for her.
Ross graduated high school as the valedictorian of her class, and by the time she graduated college she published an article in the American Journal of Organic Chemistry, joined the Theta Rho chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, and left with a “confidence to do whatever it was in the world that I sought out to do.”
Malone followed Ross in stating that the size of the institution does not determine your success.
The next question surrounded the struggles of feeling accepted and what advice they have for other Black students who do not feel like they belong.
Ross advised students to “remember your purpose for being at UTC” and to “keep yourself open.” She said that by holding bias based on race and gender, you’re holding yourself back.
Fisher followed by saying that he grew up in a predominantly white community, and that he “had to swallow a lot of anti-blackness.” The transition from his hometown to his new college home was easy. He said he knew how to “code switch” and how to “contort” himself when needed.
After the death of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, Fisher began to seek a safe haven and so he “read ferociously.”
The event ended with a discussion on how white people can be an ally for people of color. Wynn said to “support black businesses.”
Malone stated, “As much as you feel like literature can lead you to learn about specific avenues, specific things in this world, there’s nothing you’re gonna learn more than from experiencing and talking to and listing to folks who are directly impacted by the communities that you want to serve.”
Ross ending the event by stating, “Your advocacy and your alliance comes not through your words but through your behavior.”
This event was a collaboration between the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs as a part of the month-long celebration of Black History Month.