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Smiling faces, good food, and balloon decorations that match the Pan-African flag were all on display for the black students that wanted to spend the afternoon mingling with faculty members.

PCC’s Ujima Program held a student mixer, Sept. 13, in the wifi lounge to give their students an opportunity to meet with their assorted deans and professors in a casual setting.

The mixer allowed students to see their professors and assorted deans in a different light. The staff members appear more human due to the smiles and easy conversation, a stark contrast to how some may appear during lecture.

The room was packed mostly with Ujima students, who had the time to speak with prominent names on PCC’s campus, such as Dr. Paul Price and President Vurdien.

Events like these hosted by Ujima, Blackadamia, and The Association of Black Employees (TABE) allow student to feel more comfortable on campus.

“It feels good to be in a room of my own people for once,” student Eamonte Davis said in an interview, reflecting the sense of isolation black students are susceptible to on campus.

Those faced with this issue were soon met by comforting words not long after the mixer had started. When passed the microphone, the coordinator of the Ujima Program, Gena Lopez, assured students that “we are a family,” a concept the many students of the program are familiar with. “You don’t have to do it by yourself,” she added, making sure students understood they had a place to go. This, in essence, is the reason the event was held.

By the end of the event, it was clear the mixer had been a success. As people began to clear out, the room was still filled with smiles and students who were in no hurry to leave the warm atmosphere created by the program’s faculty.

“The overall purpose of the mixer is to engage black students with staff and faculty, and to allow black students to see they have human resources on campus with a like/shared experience,” Lopez said in an interview.

The Ujima Program, which is approaching a membership of 200 students, will continue to grow and provide institutional support for its students, Lopez assured. She also vocalized the support the program has received from President Vurdien, adding that he has called for continued collaboration with Ujima in pursuit of closing the achievement gap for black students.

“If we want to succeed as a society, we need to ensure that we are doing everything within our reach to provide all students with the tools that they need to experience success. It is only by bridging the gap that we will see progress, innovation, and growth,” Vurdien said in an interview.

Black students looking for a place to call home can look no further than the Black Student Success Center, located at CC-223, where Gena Lopez and the rest of the Ujima faculty will be waiting with open arms.

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