Students sit in a Zoom waiting room, anticipating the Show Your Grit event to begin. They arrive little by little, each entrance announced with a pleasant jingle on their computer screens, instead of the greetings of hello that they might be accustomed to. Although the occasion was shared through computer screens, the triumph of black heritage between the students and staff shone through.
The events that were held this week in honor of Black History Month have presented a strong sense of community and remained joyful and insightful. Show Your Grit was an event intended to inspire students to present their own bravery. The occasion was hosted by A2mend, a campus organization geared towards giving African American as well Latino men enrolled at PCC, a sense of community and opportunity through networking and counseling.
“Our meetings highlight the positive outlook that academia offers and encourages students to expect success,” said Sharif Sivad a member of A2mend.
The guest speaker was the electric Michael Vick, an NFL quarterback who played for the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets, and Pittsburgh Steelers. Vick spoke candidly answering questions from students and provided inspiration through his stories of triumph and perseverance.
“Vick has a great story,” said Bobby Morgan, an attendee of the event and a member of A2mend.
Vick’s advice about his experience with having to take time off from a sport he loves couldn’t have come at a better time. The cancellation of the sports season has left a lot of PCC’s athletes in limbo.
“None of this happens without the classroom,” said Vick, encouraging the students to focus on their studies, train, and reminding them that their time will come again. “Put a lot of time and emphasis into decision making in everything and every area, and watch how your life will improve.”
“Hearing Michael Vick’s words of encouragement to the athletes was meaningful. Having played at the highest level of his sport with passion and determination, he understands what it takes to keep pushing forward through challenges like the pandemic,” said Sivad.
Ujima, a club at PCC that focuses on the success of black students, also hosted several events, one in which the students were the stars of the Zoom showcase. Upon entering the event, the students were met with beautiful Afrocentric music, heavy with notes and beats that inspire dance and movement.
The camaraderie and support between the members of Ujima, as well as the counselors, would cause anyone to get up unabashed and share their talent. Throughout the event the chat flowed with encouragement and praise as each member shared their music, poetry and dance, leaving the event filled with brilliance.
The programs offered to students of color are inspiring and provide great opportunities. Each program focuses on the achievements of the African American student body, as well as students of color and supports them through events that give opportunities for future growth and career development.
“The great part of A2mend is that the brotherhood of students, academics, and professionals will continue with us on our journey as we transfer,” Sivad said. “I would encourage students to take advantage of the clubs that PCC has to offer.”
“I’ve gotten into conversations and associations just because of my affiliation with the organization,” said Morgan about the networking opportunities A2mend has given him.
The success of the virtual events brings Black History Month to a close but as far as black heritage and celebration, the programs that support the black community of students and staff will be continued for every month of the year.