Last Friday, the Student African American Sisterhood held its fifth annual Founders Banquet in the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center. The theme of the event was “Our History is our Strength.” The event recognized African-American women who have made a positive impact on San Diego State’s campus and the surrounding community.
SAAS was created to establish unity among women of African descent on SDSU’s campus and its community by focusing on educational success, leadership, social well-being as well as economic and health disparities. SDSU senior Kayla Thompson serves as SAAS’s president.
“Tonight was about showing how important our past is to us and how it has influenced us in pursuing our future careers,” Thompson said.
Five awards were given out during the event. The Mary McLeod Bethune Award, which honors women who demonstrate vision, innovation, action and transformation in education went to Beverly Warren, the program coordinator for the Equal Opportunity Program and Ethnic Affairs Department at SDSU. The Mae Jamison Award, which recognizes women who have made exemplary contributions to the fields of science, math and engineering went to LaToria Williams, the administrative coordinator in Student Health Services at SDSU.
The Maggie Lena Walker Award, which recognizes women who have efficiently promoted economic empowerment, entrepreneurship and community-building went to Novell Riley, a successful real estate agent in San Diego and its surrounding counties. The Allen Sisters Award, which recognizes outstanding leadership and promotion of arts in education went to Azizi James, an accomplished dancer and admissions counselor at SDSU. Lastly, the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Award, which recognizes coaches, administrators, teachers or community leaders for their outstanding contributions to the San Diego community and the world of sports, went to Dr. Sabrina White, assistant director of student-athlete academic support services at SDSU.
Entertainment during the event included a spokenword poem performance, interpretive dance and a live band. Dr. Shirley Weber, chair of the Department of Africana Studies, served as the keynote speaker for the event.
Weber’s message was centered on the importance of understanding cultural history because it creates personality and builds an individual’s character.
“When you have a small population of African-American women on campus it’s easy to get lost,” Weber said. “It really strengthens our students when they can come together around positive things and develop themselves.”