The Cadena Cultural Center and UMOJA gathered faculty members to share their personal stories in effort to inspire and motivate students at the 3rd annual African-American Forum on February 16 in the College Center.
Faculty members served as panelists and shared their own early struggles and paths to academic success, fitting the keynote theme, “Sharing Our Stories.”
The packed audience showcased a wide variety of students, counselors, and professors eager to hear the panelists’ testimonials.
The event aimed to elicit a communal feeling among the students, especially African-American students, as explained by Cecilia Arriaza, director of the Cadena Cultural Center.
“There was discussion about wanting to have more of a sense of community among our students. What better way than to share the stories of our faculty and staff professionals who work here on campus,” said Arriaza.
The panelists used humorous anecdotes and honest stories to relate and encourage students to step outside their comfort zones and succeed academically in a tumultuous time in American history.
After the panelists spoke, they sat at individual tables of students to hear their stories as well, permeating the idea of community.
“We wanted people to feel safe here and I feel like opening up and sharing stories like this is a way to show that you’ll probably find a common trend [among students], as well as finding camaraderie,” said Andrew Washington, an UMOJA student and student ambassador of communications.
The UMOJA project, a Fullerton College program dedicated to helping African-American and other students succeed academically also hosted the forum.
UMOJA helps African American students with academic success and retention, degree-completion, and transferring to universities from Fullerton College by developing a sense of community among students and faculty alike.
The event ended by opening the forum to the students, some of which stood and shared their stories and philosophies about achieving success as an African-American in the United States.
The Cadena Cultural Center will host the 10th annual Beat Cafe featuring student musicians and poets on Feb. 28 from 4-7 p.m.
To continue their multicultural event streak, they will also host the Asian American Cultural Tour by walking through historic Little Tokyo and touring the Japanese American National Museum on March 31.
They will also host World Fest, their biggest event of the year celebrating people, culture and the Earth in April.