Pasadena City College plans to host a virtual grand opening for its new, expanded Black Student Success Center next week as part of a bevy of events planned by the school in observance of Black History Month.
The grand opening and open house is scheduled for noon Thursday, according to PCC Ujima Program Director Gena Lopez, who is involved in organizing the college’s Black History Month Events along with others including Counselor Armia Walker and Blackademia Academic Coach Ewnet Zeleke.
“ I have to say that as a proud Lancer alum — I’m a Black Lancer, through and through in my blood — it’s just good to see that PCC is showing our Black community and our Black Lancers that their voices and their lives matter by putting the Black Student Success Center front and center,” Lopez said.
“We’ve moved from the corner of the CC building to the front of the L building, and that visibility, I think, is going to be amazing for our students, but also the whole Black community, to see that we see you and we care about what you’re saying. We care about what you say you need. And that’s important.”
Walker said an inclusive atmosphere has been shown to have a direct impact on education.
“Research studies have shown that a sense of belonging for Black students is directly linked to their academic success. So we know that it’s important for Black students to not only see themselves, but see people who look like them demonstrate that they care about them,” she said. “And with Black students, caring is spending time with them, creating programs, planning events geared toward their experiences.”
PCC’s Black Heritage Month observance began with a Black Faculty, Staff and Student Mixer on Tuesday, according to Walker.
“We had more than just Black people there. We were able to have a very comfortable environment for everybody who was there. We played games, we laughed, we talked about the commonalities among us. It felt like being at home with your family,” she said. “We had faculty, staff and students. It was awesome.”
Like many other organizations and institutions, PCC’s efforts in support of Black students have largely moved to the virtual realm during the pandemic.
“We still have these resources. We’re not going anywhere,” Lopez said. “My entire staff all got Google voice. They’ve all got different ways for students to access them that they didn’t have before. So it’s caused us as a team to really step up our game, because we care about the students.”
“However, I’ve seen that not being on campus and not having that physical interaction with your mentors or your coaches or your counselors; that has had an impact on our students,” she added. “So I’m anxious to get back to campus so that our students can have that touch point, because it’s necessary.”
Additional upcoming events in PCC’s Black Heritage Month observance include a game night, a hip hop forum, a knowledge bowl, a talent showcase and an open mic night.
More information, including links to take part in each event online, is available at https://pasadena.edu/calendars/event.php?eventid=3596my_key_3.