Northern Now series, BSU celebrates Black History Month with alumni panel

Jackie Phillips

Alumni relations is hosting their next installment of the Northern Now series with the help of the Black Student Union (BSU). The groups will be hosting a Black History Month alumni panel discussion on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.

The panel will host four NMU alumni, all previously members of the BSU, who will talk about how they got to where they are today. The four panelists set to speak are Chris Warner, ’09 B.S.W., Victor Fairley, ’12 B.S., Taylor Johnson, ’14 B.A. and Brianna Sartin, ’22 B.S. 

The alumni will be giving advice they may have for other students of color, speaking about their experiences on campus and how they impact the communities they live in, with current BSU president Marlanaysia Rosser moderating the panel discussion. The BSU has also rented a classroom for all of the other members to get together and watch the webinar. 

The panel discussion is a good way to see the positive impact you can have on the community after you leave NMU, Rosser said. 

“[You can] see other successful Black or Brown people in the industry that you may want to go into,” Rosser said. 

Alumni relations reached out to the BSU in order to talk about ways they could help to celebrate Black History month. In the past, Alumni Relations has done blog posts for Black History month, and three of the four panelists created posts for NMU’s blog. Features on social media have also been done in the past, but the discussion panel is one of the first times that Alumni Relations has gotten to collaborate with the BSU. 

“We really wanted to do something different and something that would reach a larger audience,” said Kylie Bunting, Director of Alumni and Foundation Communications. “It was really cool to bring together that partnership.”

Johnson, Fairley and Warner have all created blog posts on the NMU blog page, each talking about their lives and experiences. In Johnson’s blog post, the alumni tells how she learned from her experiences and how they shaped her. Fairley talks about overcoming struggles he faced and how he almost did not finish college. Warner talks about relationship building and explains how it has impacted both him and the lives of others. 

All of the panelists are really inspiring people, Bunting said. 

“It’s just a really great opportunity to allow others, both alumni and students, to just see what they’re doing and hopefully leave with a little piece of it to see how they can make their own communities a better place,” Bunting said. 

Alumni Relations and BSU hope that attendants of the panel can see themselves in the alumni and are inspired by the things the alumni are doing within their communities. 

“[You can] see yourself in a position that either you want to have in the future or something similar, knowing that the sky’s the limit,” Rosser said. 

To conclude Black History Month, the BSU has collaborated with Campus Cinema to show “The Woman King” on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. The BSU will also be hosting a Comedy Show scheduled for Friday, March 24 at 7:30 p.m.

Alumni Relations plans to host another Northern Now webinar towards the end of March featuring a panel of women in leadership positions for Women’s History Month.