KOKOMO, Ind. — Indiana University Kokomo’s Black Student Center welcomed incoming students, and began surrounding them with community, at its first-ever pinning ceremony.
Six students participated in the inaugural celebration Monday (April 25) in the Hunt Hall Atrium.
JC Barnett III, Black Student Center director, said his hope is that hosting the event will make the campus more visible among the Black community.
“IU Kokomo is a hidden treasure, and I want to be sure they are aware they can attend here and earn a bachelor’s degree in their community,” he said. “I believe this is the beginning of something very special that can happen here. This is a very special place, and this event helps students identify with this space, and find people who look like them.”
Each student received a one-inch acrylic pin with the Black Student Center logo on it, presented by a Black faculty or staff member.
“The pin itself is such an insignificant thing, but it represents a very significant thing,” Barnett said. “It honors that these students have made a conscious decision to pursue their academic endeavors at IU Kokomo, and really grab hold of their destiny.”
Barnett said the ceremony gives these admitted students a chance to meet people who can reassure them there will be a community to support them.
“When people think of IU Kokomo, knowing it’s a predominantly white campus, they think this space isn’t for them like it is for others,” he said. “When they step into that space and see Black faculty, staff, and students, it leaves a lasting impression for them.”
Senior Nakayla Humphrey, president of the Black Student Union, was one of three students who spoke during the event. She said it would have meant a lot to her to have had a ceremony like it when she was first enrolling. She wasn’t sure she would meet other Black students and was nervous about trying to make new friends.
“It would have been nice to meet new people before I got to campus, so I wouldn’t be as scared when it was time to go to class,” said Humphrey, from Kokomo. “It’s important for Black students to know they are welcome on campus, especially when you don’t often see people who look like you in the classroom. It’s nice to know there will be people you have something in common with.”
Other student speakers were seniors Tia Chambers, Mishawaka, and Desean Hampton, Speedway. Taylor Lee, a senior from Kokomo, presented a spoken word performance.
Students honored during the pinning ceremony included Kyle Poates, Floyds Knobs; Blessing Akinniranye, Linden Edwards, and Pierce Stout, Indianapolis; and Simara McCracken and Joshua Smith, Kokomo.
Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke, Mark Canada, interim deputy chancellor and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, Rosalyn Davis, clinical associate professor of psychology and director of the Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling program, and Tess Barker, vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management, provided a campus welcome.
The Black Student Center is part of the IU Kokomo Multicultural Center. For more information go to iuk.edu/diversity/.