BSU’s Black Professionalism Series helps students network with professionals


Contributed: BSU

Black Student Union members with guest speaker, Track & Field Olympic Gold Medalist Dalilah Muhammad. (Photo taken pre-pandemic.)

Amaris Menjivar, Reporter

The Black Student Union, or BSU, is one affinity club on California Lutheran University’s campus that strives to support its members throughout college and prepare them for their professional lives. BSU’s Black Professionalism Series showcases this by connecting students with established professionals who can offer real-world advice.

“I decided that the Black Professionalism Series was something that needed to be a part of BSU programming,” BSU President Urael Blackshear said in a Zoom interview. “The psychology behind looking at an example of who and what you can be and seeing yourself in somebody else is very deep and a real strong part of success.”

His inspiration for starting the series stemmed from his personal experiences.

“I know that everything that I have been able to achieve thus far has come from an example of my mom or another family [member] or close acquaintance achieving those things,” he said.

Blackshear added that it is important to see people that look like you thriving in the positions you are interested in.

Taylor Brown, BSU’s senior social media manager, said in a phone interview that the goal of the professional development series is for students “to have mentors and have people that they can connect with” whether it be for a future job or just “someone they can look up to.”

Blackshear said he wants students to stay motivated toward their respective career paths and engage in networking to build their professional connections.

Brown said she can attest to these connections being fruitful.

During the spring semester the club arranged for Cheyenne Bryant, life coach and President of NAACP branch #1069, to speak at a club meeting.

Though the club had to reschedule Bryant for the fall due to the transition to remote learning, Bryant kept in touch.

Bryant ended up hiring Brown as her intern.

“I have been working with her since the summer and I run like all of her different social media platforms for all of her different businesses,” Brown said.

Another guest speaker who has become a resource for club members is Dontae Winslow, a well-established composer, producer, conductor, song writer and trumpet player. He has helped club members with their individual music careers and formed a working relationship with Blackshear.

Winslow said motivating and encouraging the youth is “something that [he] is very passionate about” and has done for quite some time. “When it comes to speaking to kids and helping kids that’s like what I do for a living.”

Blackshear said planning for Winslow’s speaking engagement took about six months. They met multiple times and Blackshear was very involved in the drafting process, letting Winslow know the objective of the series and his vision for it.

“Well he let me know what the needs were,” Winslow said. “That the students were needing encouragement [and] that the students wanted professional careers and then I spoke to those needs.”

All the preparation made for an unforgettable experience for the students and Winslow was deemed a “fan favorite,” Blackshear said.

Social media assistant for BSU, Gbemi Abon, attended Winslow’s presentation as a first-year student and said that the lessons he shared really made an impact on her.

Abon said the “pointers [he] gave [us] on how to move within [our] own journey and in college and even after college” were useful even for those not pursuing a career in music.

Abon said she still has the list of notes from the evening Winslow spoke saved on her phone. She has used his advice to overcome challenges outside of the academic or professional sphere.

The series is scheduled to continue virtually this semester with Bryant on Tuesday, Sept. 22.

More information regarding this event can be found on BSU’s Instagram @bsucallutheran.