I distinctly remember my first day of being alone in college -- without the safety of my family or the comfort of my own space. Laying down in my lofted twin bed staring at the ceiling I realized that I needed to adapt to my new environment. Santa Clara University was my new home and everywhere I looked, I realized that it couldn’t feel further from it. While the college experience is often romanticized in our society, the realities of being a homesick new student is not. After hours passed, of me laying in bed on my phone, a notification appeared -- a Facebook event from Igwebuike, the Pan-African club on campus.
The event was an ice cream social in the Shapell lounge to welcome the first years on campus. I walked in to be welcomed by upbeat music, strawberry ice cream, and other Black students, laughing and conversing. I was approached by a girl with long curly hair and she cheerfully introduced herself. After an hour of the event, the vibe was carefree, welcoming, and felt like home -- I wondered how I could have felt so alone just an hour ago in my dorm room. Three years later, I now walk into the same lounge with the same exuberant feeling of home. The same girl who introduced herself to me has been by my side every since- and I now hold a leadership position on the board of Igwebuike, serving as the Culture Show Coordinator. Igwebuike is a safe haven for me and for other Black students on campus and has played a significant role in my happiness at SCU.
The club is one of the ten multicultural clubs that reside in our Multicultural Center and provides Black students and allies a space to host meetings, socials, difficult dialogues and much more. The MCC is the brainchild of student activists who wanted a space for students of color to celebrate their culture and to have the resources they need. One major part of the MCC experience is the different culture shows that each club puts on every year. Igwebuike, the Black/Pan African Student Union, has a unique show because it encompasses hundreds of Black cultures in one experience.
This year, we decided to do this in the best way possible- through food, music, dance, singing, and poetry. Black cultures from around the world were represented- from Jamaica to Nigeria to America. This year, Igwebuike members came together in record numbers, selling out tickets and making the show the best it could be. Coordinating the show allowed me to see the beauty of our campus and gave me the opportunity to show off what I love best -- my culture.
One thing that makes Igwebuike special is how connected our community is. Joining immediately gives you a family that will connect you with the rest of the campus and allow you to thrive as a Bronco. Through the club, I gained mentors, best friends, exposure to different opportunities (including the Ambassador program) and the skills I needed to grow. I’m so grateful for all that it has done for me and I can’t imagine my college experience without it!