By Jasmine Phillips, Counselor LATTC
As I looked around the room, I was proud to see these new, yet familiar faces. As with tradition, we blessed our food and broke bread to open this gathering; and I knew it would be a wonderful semester. The first Umoja meeting of the year demonstrated the deep bond from students to faculty and from faculty to students as everyone gathered together in unity committed to the academic success, personal growth and self-actualization of our students. It was a celebration of the hard work that had transpired in the past years as well as the anticipation of what’s to come this year.
It was very moving to see African American males, passionate and energized, come to be part of the Umoja community, stand up to introduce themselves, share their personal stories, and support each other through words of encouragement.
Through the Sankofa model of reaching back and connecting, this year’s Umoja students will partner with the new campus club, National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), as well as the LACCD Black Faculty and Staff Association (BFSA) to empower students to pursue and never give up on their dreams, and to push forward while always remembering the past.
As this theme sets the tone for the coming year, Umoja has a variety of cultural events and educational activities planned. They just returned from the annual rededication event of Colonel Allen Allensworth State Historic Park, the first city in California founded by African Americans. It was a celebration of the renewed commitment to the park and its symbolic representation of self determination, educational success and economic development.
The next event will be the the “Black Minds Matter!” rally in Sacramento on Thursday, November 5, 2015. Over 800 high school, community college, and university students from all over Los Angeles and northern California will rally on the steps of the state capital building. After that, the students will travel to Oakland to the Umoja XI Conference at the Oakland City Center Marriott from November 6th to the 7th, 2015. Hosted by Chabot College and the College of San Mateo, this year’s theme is “Our Students Matter: Cultural Democracy, Equity as Action.”
In addition to the cultural events, there are also a series of educational workshops that will be taking place as well. The goal is to create a culture of reading and academic success, so students will take part in study skills, reading, writing, and math workshops throughout the year.
Through the power of community, unity, and the Each One Teach One model, LA Trade-Tech’s Umoja community plans to increase its cohort of students as well as improve retention through empowering and uplifting students. New coordinator, Jeremy Jackson, brings valuable tangible experience to his new position; so it is going to be a fabulous year, and it’s already evident that the sky is the limit. In the words of those who have come before us, might I remind us all to “keep your eyes on the prize.” At Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, the Umoja legacy continues and will be the pathway to ensuring that African American students attain the prize of academic success.