As president of Turlock High School’s Black Student Union, senior Alaya Hubbard said that she has received much more than she expected after joining the club last year.
“Black Student Union is so important because it’s not only a cultural and leadership club, but it’s a life club,” said Hubbard. “You figure out what it is you want from your life, how to achieve it and how to live on your own terms.
“Overall, BSU just taught me more about myself that I never would have learned anywhere else,” added Hubbard.
Earlier this month, Hubbard and her fellow BSU members attended the 40th annual United Black Student Unions of California Northern Region Leadership and Election Conference. Throughout the one-day event, Hubbard said that she participated in various workshops, including a nutrition workshop, a college aid workshop and a sisterhood workshop.
“I learned how to take care of my body, how to lessen the burden of college expenses and how to support myself and other females,” said Hubbard. “I learned how many others BSUs there are in our region, what their concerns were and how we are all interconnected to each other.”
THS BSU advisor Mary Asgill said that she has taken her students to the conference for nearly a decade in order to give them a chance to network with professionally dressed, well-spoken, high-achieving young people who have bright futures ahead.
“I want them to have every opportunity to be motivated and inspired by professionals who send them the message that if they work hard, they can be and do anything that they set their hearts and minds on,” said Asgill.
For almost half a century, THS has had a BSU for students to meet and learn about Black history and culture. Asgill said that in the past, students have discussed literature by Black authors, learned more about the history of soul food, researched the history of Black music, and attended field trips.
“We attend Historically Black College Fairs, the Youth Empowerment Conference at Stanford University every year,” said Asgill. “We see plays by the African American Shakespeare Company and various other cultural outings. We also do a community service project—and of course—attend the Regional and State Leadership Conferences.”
THS BSU members were not the only local BSU to attend the UBSUC Northern Region Leadership and Election Conference earlier this month as advisor Dave Walls took his Pitman High School BSU members as well. Walls said that he decided to take his students for enlightenment reasons and positive exposure.
PHS established its own BSU in 2003 after Walls decided that he wanted to give back to the school. Walls, who grew up in South Central Los Angeles, said that due to his membership in Cathedral Prep’s BSU, he experienced a “whole new avenue for college.”
“So many things that I took for granted regarding my culture I had the opportunity to be exposed to,” said Walls.
Both Asgill and Walls agreed that the main goals of BSU include helping student graduate from high school and college, understand how to become leaders, meet and have fun with other BSUs. Walls also said that the BSU aims to enlighten each and every member.
“I believe that there is so much out in the world for students of colors to experience and we sometimes get stuck in our own little world,” said Walls. “Through the BSU we have the opportunity to expose our students to many new and different aspects of life.”