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College kicks off Black History Month with Opening Ceremony

By:  Andrew Mees, Director of College and Athletics Communications           

Bloomfield College students, faculty and staff rang in one of the year’s most important national initiatives on Feb. 4, as the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF), SSS STAR (TRIO) and McNair Scholars programs held an Opening Ceremony to kick off the celebration of Black History Month in the institution’s Student Center.

The day’s festivities included remarks from each program, highlighted by a duo of SSS STAR (Students to Achieve Renown) students past and present.  Alumna Danielle Patterson ’13 and current senior Lawrence Rivers addressed patrons, sharing their personal tales of triumph and perseverance and how the program has impacted their lives. 

“When I first came to school here at Bloomfield, I had heard of the STAR Program, and I thought it might be able to help me,” Rivers said of the comprehensive program designed to help students succeed in college while also preparing for graduate school.  “I initially joined the program to get financial assistance, but what I ended up getting was a second family.  My family in the STAR Program has supported me even when I was down on myself, and has always pushed me to do more than I ever thought possible, which is why I am so thankful to be a part of it.”

The ceremony also featured keynote speaker and College alumnus Carrol Frank Alston ‘72, the Associate Director of Counseling of Seton Hall University’s Educational Opportunity Program.  Part of Bloomfield’s inaugural EOF class, Alston reminded the audience that how they view and perceive the world – and their experiences in it - will ultimately determine whether or not they meet their goals.

“We have an opportunity to understand that our success is determined by how we ourselves choose to view things,” he said during his remarks.  “We must guide our students through the transition of beginning to think about things that way, while allowing them to develop that understanding in their own time.”

Prominent civil rights activists were honored to close the afternoon event, as names of the movement’s legends were said aloud among audience participants as the African American Flag was raised outside the Student Center.  The Opening Ceremony begins a month of programming to honor Black History Month, with professional development and other informational sessions set to help celebrate an integral part of Bloomfield College’s fabric.

“There is something to be said about marking a moment, and ceremonies help us do that,” EOF Counselor Tawn Walker said.  “Things like this give us the opportunity to acknowledge the national theme of this month, which is to acknowledge human rights, not just civil rights.  It is something we want all of our students, and our community, to be a part of.  We are looking forward to a great month of programming during this special time.”

Click here to view a Flickr photo gallery of the Black History Month Opening Ceremony.