Two Members of New Black Alumni Mentorship Program Discuss Plans for Alumni Weekend

Members of Westminster College’s Black Alumni Mentorship Program ― a new initiative formed exclusively by alumni ― will host a meet-and-greet during Alumni Weekend, April 8-9, 2022.

The event will take place from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 9, at Hermann Lounge in Hunter Activity Center. All interested alumni and students are invited to attend.

The brainchild after extensive research of former Diversity Fellow Tychirra Moreno, ’19, the Black Alumni Mentorship Program, or BAM Program, seeks to connect Black students and alumni with one another, operating as a network of support for all.

Today the program is structured with regular support from the College: It receives ongoing administrative assistance and other reinforcement through the Diversity Fellow at the Center for Faith & Service.

Westminster Monthly recently caught up with BAM Program members Muhle Dlamini, ’15 ΚΑ, and Rai’an Harris, DC, ’14 ΚΑΘ, to learn more about both the organization and upcoming meet-and-greet.

Westminster Monthly: Why do you feel the Black Alumni Mentorship Program is important?

Muhle Dlamini: The school has made it clear that diversity, equity, and inclusion systems are included in its strategic plan, and while this program is not a part of the strategic plan, it fills a void that strategy might miss out on. Strategic plans take time to develop, implement, and gauge, and we wanted a solution for our current students at Westminster who may not be here long enough to benefit from the efforts of the administration’s long-term plans.

Rai’an Harris: I think this group is extremely important for protecting the mental and emotional  health of our students. As with everything, representation is important, and being able to see others like you that have walked in your shoes is helpful in knowing that you’re not on the journey alone.

Westminster Monthly: What would you say is the overall goal of the program?

Muhle Dlamini: Providing mentorship to current students in the exact way they need it. Some students may want professional guidance in their field, while others may need a soundboard for their ideas and vision for students of color, while others may need support in how to navigate their experience as a minority on a predominantly white campus. Without limiting our purpose to the scenarios I just described, we want to make sure that students of color have access to voices they can identify with.

Westminster Monthly: Long term, how would you like to see the program evolve?

Rai’an Harris: Personally, I would really love to see this evolve into a large bridge between current students and alumni. I hope that it will create an even deeper bond and forever-specific niche for students to feel a part of something, just like they would a sport or Greek Life. I want it to be able to be used as a recruiting and retention tool, showing prospective students what incredible community is possible at Westminster, and this program may allow them a sneak peek.

Westminster Monthly: What can participants look forward to during the Alumni Weekend meet-and-greet?

Muhle Dlamini: We hope to recognize any seniors in the program. We also plan to use the event as an opportunity to recruit more alumni mentors and open the program up to more students. Our purpose is only as great as the students’ needs allow it to be, so I hope they know they are in control of it.

Rai’an Harris: I plan to meet my mentee and hopefully encourage other students to join the program. In the future, I imagine there could be many amazing events that this group is able to sponsor as well as many celebrations we are able to participate in.

For more information on the Black Alumni Mentorship Program, please contact Diversity Fellow Larke Tyler at Larke.Tyler@WCMO.edu or 573-592-6139.

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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is a Media and Content Strategist at Westminster College in Fulton, MO. A 1992 graduate of the College, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communication in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.

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