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Student Perspective: Aryanah Walker-Sanchez, ’26

BSU student’s reflection on racial justice and equity
Story Series
Action: Racial Justice and Equity

Can you talk about your work on campus in the name of racial justice and equity?

I’m a peer mentor/advisor in the Honors Program dedicated to promoting success for all students to benefit from our program and be the best students they can be. I also hold peer advising sessions all around campus, most recently in the Lewis and Gaines Center for Inclusion and Equity and Student Accessibility Services. Another thing I’ve done is create videos, flyers and infographics that help students navigate Degree Works, register for courses, and more. The videos have been deemed so helpful that the Academic Achievement Center asked if they could share them too.

What motivates you to get involved in issues surrounding social and racial justice?

Seeing the difference small change can make in someone’s life is enough to make me stay involved. I know what it’s like to be on the opposite end of the stick, so I want to be a person that makes someone’s day.

What is it like to be a student of color at BSU?

Being a student of color has been interesting. (I’m of mixed heritage: Puerto Rican, African American and Native American.) On the academic side, absolutely nothing is impacted, which is great to say. On the more personal side, I have experienced my fair share of negative comments regarding my hair, language and vernacular. But on the brighter side, I have found some of my closest friends that share similar backgrounds. My experience as a student of color is not a bad one, just a complex one.

Are there things that make you feel welcomed at BSU?

Many things make me feel welcome here, such as the abundance of student involvement when it comes to events. My absolute favorite that has happened this academic year was the Hispanic Celebration put on by La Sociedad Latinx. Being able to share the music I grew up listening to and the food I grew up eating with my friends made me so incredibly happy. And I love that I was able to experience that here. We’re all able to come together and appreciate different cultures, which is an amazing thing.

What things make you feel unwelcome at BSU?

Unwelcome isn’t the word. I’d say overexertion of race-based incentives doesn’t sit the best with me. While I am a person of color, I am so much more than that. I do believe everyone has good intentions, however, this is something that doesn’t seem quite right with me. I want to feel as though my achievements are due to my hard work and motivations, not because I was born a certain color.

What experience or experiences have you had on campus that were most impactful?

The most impactful experience I’ve had on campus was definitely my ability to be accessible to my peers. To be specific, I have trouble focusing on tasks sometimes, specifically homework. In my role as an honors peer advisor, I came up with methods that have helped me stay focused. The following week I was informed that a student with similar troubles used my method and found that it worked better than what they usually did. That feeling of knowing I was able to help someone on that level academically was so fulfilling. I strive to have that impact in everything I do.

What would you do to improve things on campus for people of color?

There’s not much that comes to mind regarding improving things. I feel like BSU has done a good job with awareness with resources like the LGCIE and the dance team D’Afrique, and more. I can say that being approachable and reachable is something I know I can be for all students, and being able to learn and grow, not only as a peer advisor but also as a person. I want to be someone that people don’t hesitate to reach out to with concerns, questions or just someone to say hello to.


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