During my first semester at Luther, I promised myself that I would not get involved in any extracurricular activities. Coming from high school where I was actively engaged in student organizations, I wanted to take a break and enjoy college life. This dream went down the drain in my second semester when I participated in an election for an opening on an organization’s executive board. At this point I realized, there was no possible way for me to enjoy my time at Luther without being involved.
Luther College provides an abundance of opportunities for students to get involved in the overall progress of the campus community. I have had the honor of serving on multiple executive boards during my three years at Luther, including the International Student and Allies Association executive board as social media coordinator and then president. I currently serve on the Black Student Union (BSU) executive board as the social media coordinator and on the Beta Theta Omega executive board as the secretary. Through my position on the BSU executive board, and in combination with other roles that I have held, I’ve developed a new perspective on various aspects of my life.
As the social media coordinator for the BSU executive board, I use my creative and communication skills to communicate the various plans of the organization to its members. In this role, I enjoy using my skills to promote an activity that I know contributes to a community on campus. Even though I have enjoyed this role in every capacity, it has been accompanied with a plethora of challenges.
The challenges I have faced while holding leadership positions on campus have for a large part existed because of my identity as a Black woman. I am constantly faced with the task of having to prove to people that I am capable of fulfilling my responsibilities; whether it’s delivering an important message or designing a flyer that communicates the details of an event. I persistently find myself in a battle to prove my worth and that I belong. Even in the way I communicate with other team members, I have to be cautious. My communication style cannot take the same form of many others who are not Black women. This is for fear of being labelled with a harmful stereotype that has plagued Black women for years.
The challenges that I face in these positions are something that I do not believe I will ever get used to. The fact that my gender and race continually place me in uncomfortable situations is disheartening and something that no person should ever accept. I have been able to overcome these challenges in my own unique way. First, I identified that I belong in the space which I fill. I deserve to exist in positions that I wish to occupy because all of us are capable of whatever we decide to do. Second, I remember daily that my existence in relation to my race and gender place me in a unique position that does not give me the opportunity to fumble like others might be able to. Last, I ensure that I perform exceptionally in every task I am assigned as a reminder to others that my identity does not define my ability.
A driving force behind why I continue to take on leadership positions is the fact that there are not enough women of color on our campus in leadership roles. My existence in such positions gives me the chance to ensure that the community of women of color on campus have a voice and are accurately represented where important decisions are being made about their lives on campus. I always hope that my contributions on campus help to inspire other women to take on leadership positions. And I also hope that the leadership, communication, and work ethic skills which I am acquiring during my time here at Luther serve me in the future.