Arriving at SNU, a predominantly white institution (PWI), can be a very different experience for many of our students. Participation in one of our three intercultural student societies is helping these students to navigate this transition and start to feel at home.
As we begin a new school year, we wanted to highlight the work these groups are doing by interviewing the president of each society. We interviewed Dajia Davis, the president of the Black Student Society, Abesolom Mekuria, the president of the International Student Society, and Marcel Martinez-Vargas, the president of the Hispanic and Latin Student Society.
The Black Student Society (BSS)
Dajia Davis is a Junior elementary education major from Dallas, Texas. In addition to serving as the President of the Black Student Society, she is also the Vice President for Athletic Relations as part of SGA and she is a member of the SNU track team.
When she arrived at SNU, Dajia said she felt like a visitor in someone else’s home. Being a part of the Black Student Society helped her overcome some of those feelings and also made her want to help other black students appreciate what SNU has to offer.
Dajia is really excited about this school year and especially Welcome Black Week which begins August 31 and runs through September 5. That week, the BSS will host a different event each day with a Pajama Jam movie night, Black Student 101 session, Paint and Praise night featuring gospel music, Vision Board creation night, Just Kickin’ party and finally a day of community service.
When asked about her goal for the BSS this year, she said she was most interested in strengthening the society so that future classes will continue to benefit by writing out policies and procedures for the organization. She also wants to put in place a website with an option for people to donate to the society so that they can offer more to the community. Another activity she is planning is a “Cookies and Careers” event in which black voices from the community will be invited to come to campus to share their reflections.
Those interested in the BSS can follow their Instagram page: @snubss2019
The International Student Society (ISS)
Abesolom Mekuria, the president of the ISS, is a senior international business major from Ethiopia. He told us that he derives a lot of pleasure from helping his fellow international students as they figure out what SNU is all about.
Abesolom stated that his main goals for the ISS this year are to have biweekly meetings open to all international students that consist of fellowship and encouragement along with providing community service opportunities through the Reaching Our City ministry with whom the ISS has created a partnership. He also wants to create a closer relationship with the intercultural engagement component of SGA.
Abesolom praised SNU for the strong stance it took for international students this Summer when the state department announced that international students would not be allowed to stay in the country if the schools they attended went to a virtual format due to Covid-19. He said the school made the international students feel valued.
The ISS also has on its agenda for this school year to continue offering events that create integration between international and non-international students. Last year they sponsored an Ethiopian food night with music and food provided by Queen of Sheba restaurant.
Those interested in the ISS can follow their Instagram page: @snu_iss
Hispanic and Latin Student Society (HLSS)
The president of the HLSS is Marcel Martinez-Vargas, a senior Graphic Design major from Oklahoma City. Marcel grew up a Nazarene and feels he has the unique ability to help students bridge the gap between being Hispanic and attending SNU, a predominantly white institution.
Marcel believes that the overarching purpose of the HLSS is to provide a means for celebrating Hispanic and Latin culture while allowing students to bond over similar experiences and to feel fully integrated into the SNU experience.
In the past, the HLSS has sponsored a number of events featuring Latin music, dancing and cuisine. Marcel said he really enjoys sharing his culture with the entire SNU community and that the HLSS would continue these events this year with modifications made to accommodate the health and wellness guidelines of the university.
One of the goals Marcel has for this year is to make it easier for commuter students to attend HLSS events and to provide input for how things at SNU can be made better for the Hispanic student body. He would also like to foster more camaraderie with the other intercultural societies and to participate in activism as opportunities arise.
Those interested in the HLSS can follow their Instagram page: @snu_hlss