February 13, 2013
Pay it forward: Black Student Union president gives back to organization, members
Many college students remember fondly occasions where an older student gave them assistance or advice when they were a struggling or confused freshman.
That's why Kansas State University senior Anita Easterwood decided to take an active role in passing along the help and advice provided her during her time at the university to other students.
Easterwood, a drawing major from Kansas City, Kan., is president of the university's Black Student Union, an organization of about 60 students that works to provide social, emotional and academic support to its members while at the university.
Easterwood has been an active member of Black Student Union since coming to the university in 2009, serving on the organization's executive board for two years before her stint this school year as president. She said serving as president of Black Student Union was a way to give back to an organization that helped her achieve success.
"I've learned too much throughout my K-State experience not to share with others, and I've been helped by too many people not to relate that same advice to my community," she said.
Easterwood's main goals when she became president of Black Student Union were to strengthen the bond among members and make sure the organization remained a strong force on campus. Black Student Union provides a mentee/mentor program that matches incoming students with an older student who serves as a role model. Easterwood thinks this program is among the most essential provided by the organization.
"I think the best thing about Black Student Union is that we are a resource for incoming students," she said. "Mentors are there for emotional and educational support so new students don't feel like they're going through their college career alone."
While Black Student Union is a resource to assist its members in all aspects of their college lives, Easterwood said that academics is the organization's No. 1 priority.
"We make sure all of our members are utilizing tutoring services, and we also hold a study session every Sunday," she said. "Since education is the reason we are all here in the first place, I believe it's crucial that education comes first."
Easterwood has even more events to coordinate this month as February is Black History Month. The month is important not only for African-Americans, but for all Americans as we reflect on how the country's diversity has strengthened the country, she said.
"Black History Month is extremely important because we learn about people who we don't necessarily read about in textbooks," she said. "It is a time for us to expand our knowledge about African-Americans and the impact they had and still have on this country. Although it's called 'Black History Month,' this month is crucial for everyone to celebrate regardless of race, because we all need to appreciate one another for our contributions and hard work."
Easterwood is a 2009 graduate of Sumner Academy of Arts and Science in Kansas City, Kan.
Note: Photo courtesy of Kedric Elmore.