umoja conferenceOn Friday, March 13, the ASTEP Learning Community of Skyline College was proudly represented at the Northern California Regional Umoja Symposium, which took place at UC Davis. Umoja is a well-known regional and statewide conference that brings many California community colleges together in order to promote the importance of community building, cultural awareness and empowerment. During the conference, keynote speaker Dr. Joy DeGruy discussed the “Agents for Healing and Empowerment” focusing specifically on overcoming “Vacant Esteem, Anger and Racist Socialization.” 

A few crucial points that Dr. DeGruy addressed included:

  • Knowing ourselves
  • Healing from past injuries
  • Building self-esteem
  • Modeling positive behavior
  • Building community
  • Creating strong leadership
  • Telling our story
  • Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome (PTSS)
  • The Theory of Triadic Influence (TTI)
  • The Relationship Approach- “It takes a village to raise a child”

Later in the agenda, students were placed into different groups to discuss their understanding of the three concepts (Vacant Esteem, Anger and Racist Socialization) and to strategize different approaches and solutions for how to move forward in life. This activity challenged students to think critically, to demonstrate their competency and to reflect on how they could make a difference on their college campuses.

This year’s Umoja Regional Symposium was especially noteworthy because the California Community Colleges Board of Governors forged a historic student transfer agreement with nine historically black colleges and universities. What this means is that students who complete their AA/AS degrees from any California community college will have automatic transfer opportunities to any of nine selected HBCUs.

The conference also included a UC College Fair, a student panel with student perspectives from UC Davis, UCLA and UC Berkeley. Furthermore, there was an inspirational and empowering spoken word segment to conclude the event. Students and faculty from ASTEP were truly honored to participate in a program sharing resources for students who are traditionally underrepresented educationally and economically. Umoja progressively develops self-awareness and a solid base for their academic success.

Article by Brianna Clay | Photos by JayVonn McGolthen