OSWEGO – Dedication to celebrating Black historical past and tradition and ongoing dedication to bettering the lives of others have earned SUNY Oswego junior accounting main Samisha Elysee the Newman Civic Fellowship, a nationwide honor.
Campus Compact, a nationwide coalition of greater than 1,000 faculties and universities dedicated to the general public functions of upper training, coordinates the yearlong fellowship program that gives coaching and assets to future leaders.
Elysee and Tiffany Flores co-created and co-coordinated the Black Excellence Tour on campus in August 2020 that highlighted the contributions and accomplishments of Black artists, scientists, inventors and different achievers.
“With all the pieces that was taking place, I used to be actually upset as a result of it appeared like I couldn’t do something for my very own group being caught residence,” Elysee recalled. “We actually needed to do one thing for the Black group. Tiffany and I had been speaking, and I mentioned, ‘Why don’t we do a celebration?’”
Plans dovetailed for an Aug. 20 occasion that launched new college students to each the campus and the celebration of Black achievements.
“Throughout fall Welcome Week, over 200 college students participated in a five-part scavenger hunt throughout campus, stopping at areas that centered on Black music, meals, scientific and technological developments, Black wealth, monetary literacy and problems with cultural appropriation,” President Deborah F. Stanley wrote in Elysee’s nomination letter.
“The Black Excellence Tour was created to make clear not simply our plights, however showcase the accomplishments of the Black group,” Elysee defined. “For many years the Black group has been depicted by way of tragic photographs that suggest our lives don’t matter.”
Along with its instructional elements, the tour additionally featured the work of native Black artist Jaleel Campbell and individually packaged meals gadgets from native Black-owned restaurant Creole Soul.
The occasion sought to offer some positivity throughout what was a difficult time between the battle for racial justice and the continuing pandemic. Watching the occasions unfold over the summer time, with steady photographs of unjust killings of Black folks, Elysee and Flores needed to discover a solution to counter the discouraging developments.
“Whereas each social justice state of affairs requires a nuanced and balanced method and whereas it is very important acknowledge hardships, it’s also essential to rejoice and elevate the accomplishments of the Black group,” Elysee mentioned. “This was the aim of the Black Excellence Tour.”
“Samisha’s dedication to social justice and inclusion has contributed to a extra welcoming, inclusive, and well-informed campus group,” Stanley famous.
The tour, Elysee hopes, goes to be one a part of a journey for the way forward for incoming college students of coloration and the psychological well being of the Black college students on campus.
“My hope is that the Black Excellence Tour was simply the tipping level of a bigger, extra collaborative and academic occasion I hope we will accomplish yearly on campus and within the city of Oswego,” Elysee famous.
Past that very well-received occasion, Elysee “is dedicated to addressing systemic injustices and creating constructive change, particularly by way of participating and educating her fellow college students,” Stanley wrote. “She leads her friends and organizes cultural occasions comparable to Black Historical past Month celebrations by way of the Scholar Actions Planning Board and the annual ALANA (African, Latino, Asian and Native American) Scholar Management Convention.”
For Elysee, her work is about doing what she will be able to to make lives higher for her fellow college students, whether or not by way of organizing and selling occasions or by way of initiatives like SAPB making self-care kits accessible to college students — which was so in style they needed to schedule a second spherical. She continues to plan occasions that present college students a welcome break from lecturers and the pressures of the pandemic.
With a minor in entrepreneurship, Elysee additionally runs her personal firm, Shea Élysée, LLC, whereas excelling within the classroom and in her lively scholar life.
“She has additionally developed her personal cosmetics enterprise that caters to the Black group; a gaggle which the market typically overlooks,” Stanley wrote.
Along with the alternatives made attainable by the fellowship, Elysee hopes to finish a grasp’s diploma and earn her Licensed Public Accountant certification whereas rising her personal firm. She has realized about operating a enterprise and advertising and marketing by way of courses and actions, however nonetheless needs her work to have a better affect.
“I plan to increase in such a method that I’ll have much more affect to take a position into the Black group’s affairs and work in direction of higher corrective promotion, illustration and financial change for us,” Elysee mentioned.
The Newman Civic Fellowship acknowledges and helps community-committed college students who’re changemakers and public problem-solvers at Campus Compact member establishments. Fellows are nominated by their president or chancellor on the idea of their potential for public management.
By way of the fellowship, Campus Compact gives college students with coaching and assets that nurture their abilities and passions and assist them develop methods for social change. The yearlong program, named for Campus Compact founder Frank Newman, contains digital studying alternatives and networking as a part of a nationwide community of engaged scholar leaders.
Whereas she was stunned by the award, Elysee discovered it a welcome offshoot of attempting to enhance the lives of others.
“It’s actually a fantastic alternative to have,” she mentioned. “Once you’re attempting to do one thing out of the goodness of your coronary heart, to suppose it’s being reciprocated makes me actually grateful.”