Thanks to all of our supporters who have made a gift in support of the Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center! Rising senior Alyeecia Knight, who works as a center assistant, recently shared her story of how the Black Cultural Center has impacted her UO experience:
My name is Alyeecia Knight. I’m a junior here at the University of Oregon, where I work as a center assistant for the new Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center. It is hard to put everything the BCC means to me into words. Thanks to the center, I have finally found the home that I had been yearning for more than half of my undergraduate career. Your support of the LRP Black Cultural Center tells students of color, especially Black students, that there is a place for us here on UO’s campus—that we matter.
At first, it was difficult to find a place where I felt a sense of belonging on UO’s predominantly white campus. I am pursuing a degree in Applied Economics, Business, and Society while triple minoring in Latin, Media Studies, and Sports Business. I am often the only Black woman in the room, and I feel like I have to debunk the many stereotypes of Black women. Monitoring how I carry myself around campus and in the classroom has been draining, both mentally and physically. Forming meaningful connections with faculty and fellow students has been challenging.
Towards the end of my freshman year, I contemplated transferring home, as I was struggling to make friends who could understand my experiences. However, I felt a need to overcome these obstacles; I did not want to disappoint my parents who had worked so hard to send me to the UO. I decided to be more proactive in my search for belonging. While I ended up making more friends by speaking up in my classes, but I still felt a void as I navigated the UO campus.
Within my first month of working at the BCC, I knew I had found my HOME. The feeling of walking into a place focused not only on your academic and personal success but your overall wellbeing is indescribable. It felt amazing to be able to leave all my worries about discrimination, microaggressions, and blatant racism outside. Besides meeting fellow students of color I could relate to, I found staff who truly cared for me and helped me succeed in any way they could. Our coordinator, Dr. Hall, has become my role model. She is strong-willed, determined, and dedicated—and she constantly goes out of her way to help us be the best version of ourselves. For the first time in my college career, I felt truly supported and loved.
Without the BCC, I am not sure I would have been able to complete another year at the UO.
I am truly thankful for every connection I have made and can only hope that other students of color, especially Black students, who walk into the BCC know how much they matter. Thank you so much for your support of the Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center.
Alyeecia Knight, Class of 2021