On Friday, October 16, the Alumni Association kicked off the 8th annual Multicultural Alumni Reunion (known as MCAR). In a marked difference from previous years, the series of events occurred completely remotely, with a mixture of live and pre-recorded touchpoints for current students to engage with alumni.
The reunion kicked off with a virtual version of the traditional MCAR event Celebrate!, an event that honors the rich cultural tapestry of the AU community each year. Bayadir Mohamed-Osman, CAS/BA ’18, performed a spoken word from her debut poetry book that reflected on her experience as a Black Muslim Sudanese woman. Alumni leaders from the Black Alumni Alliance, Latino Alumni Alliance, and Asian and Pacific Islander Alumni Network touched on their values, encouraging students to get involved with their respective affinity groups. And President Sylvia M. Burwell emphasized the importance of expanding AU’s inclusive and welcoming community in these times of national turmoil.
“Our nation is facing a moment of confrontation with the racial injustices that have plagued our society for a long time,” Burwell said. “It’s a constant and painful reminder of the work that is ahead of us.”
Bradley White, SPA/BA '99, WCL/JD '07, chair of the Black Alumni Alliance, echoed Burwell’s sentiments, calling 2020 a “difficult year” but expressing gratitude that the MCAR event persisted.
“For us, as co-chairs, it was difficult to find a way to organize events that would capture some of the essence of a traditional MCAR in a virtual environment,” White said. “I’m proud of the events we put together, and I hope both alumni and students enjoyed them.”
In order to foster greater involvement and advocacy within the AU community, the Multicultural Alumni Reunion featured a panel event called “Where Do We Go From Here? 2020 and Beyond.” This virtual program brought together multicultural students and alumni to discuss issues relevant to their identities, highlight unifying themes, and deepen connections to foster greater involvement and advocacy within the AU community.
Asantewa Boakyewa, director of multicultural and affinity engagement, said that perspectives shared at the event served to educate those in the community who were unaware of some of the racist experiences students of color have endured.
“We now have the opportunity to cultivate these new relationships and broaden the multicultural alumni volunteer community,” Boakyewa said.
The panel ended by providing tips for coalition building across groups and tools for moving forward.
Another resource highlighted was the Alumni Association Book Awards. Currently available to the Black and Latino Alumni Alliances, these $500 scholarships are awarded at the end of each year to undergraduate students who demonstrate academic excellence, student leadership, and service to their community. The Asian and Pacific Islander Alumni Network (APIAN) is raising funds for its own book award designed to expand these opportunities for the AU community.
Kathy Kim, SIS/BA '16, co-chair of MCAR and vice chair of APIAN, emphasized the importance of expanding the scholarship-giving tradition set by the BAA and LAA.
“This is an opportunity for the alumni community to invest back into our students,” Kim said. “The AU alumni community stands with their students not just in name but also through financial impact.”