On Feb. 25, The Dolan School of Business Event Hall will present “Celebrating Resilience and Strength,” a gala hosted and organized by Fairfield University’s Black Student Union. 

While this event serves as the second annual gala of the Black Student Union, it also seeks to honor the sixth anniversary of the Union’s existence on campus. The doors are open to the entirety of the student body as members of the Union will speak about accomplishments the group has achieved to date while also sharing their plans for upcoming months. 

In the words of Mekaylia Ingram ‘25, the newly appointed President of the Union, “the purpose of the event is to foster solidarity and community both for students of color and allies interested in exploring what the union has to offer.” 

The gala is set to feature a range of speeches and activities. These events include student performances, a raffle, comments from members of the Office of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and speeches from Fairfield University alumni passionate about the causes the Union promotes. 

The gala will conclude with an afterparty filled with dancing and music accompanied by a guest DJ. Tickets remain available to the student body, and all of the proceeds will be donated to “#100 Girls Leading,” a non-profit organization based in neighboring Bridgeport, Conn. with the mission of empowering and mentoring underserved girls ages 9-18.

General solidarity and fellowship will be the leading themes present at the gala. It is an event in which everyone should feel included, and students should participate not out of obligation but out of the desire to experience the uniqueness and often unhighlighted culture embedded within Fairfield. 

“The union is about togetherness,” says Ingram. It is for both Black and non-Black students wishing to learn and engage more with the community. 

Last year, the gala was hosted in April near the conclusion of the academic year; however, as newly-elected President, Ingram was proactive about moving the gala to February to coincide with Black History Month in order that it may act as both an informative event and a celebration of Blackness and culture. 

The Union, at its core, is a safe haven, and it is a place where the diversity of Blackness can be expressed and appreciated in its varied forms. Therefore, an essential aspect of the gala centers around engaging in proactive and constructive dialogue about topics surrounding blackness and solidarity.

As an aspiring nurse, these topics are of special interest to Ingram. As she expresses, the upcoming classes of students have been met with the unique challenge of restructuring traditional approaches to important topics in a post-covid world where the events of recent years have impacted the current student body and necessitated them to adjust to unprecedented circumstances. Not long ago, an event of this magnitude would not have been possible. This knowledge carries a special excitement as members of the Union prepare for their work and message to be experienced by the broader Fairfield community.

In the spirit of cultivating togetherness and encouraging the student body to engage with the work the Union is promoting, Ingram gave a glimpse into an upcoming event. Next semester, the Union will plan to host a Black Diaspora event which will include a celebration of an amalgam of distinct cultures housed under the umbrella of Blackness. 

“You are not just defined by your blackness. There are so many subcategories within blackness to which particular attention must be given,” says Ingram.

An event celebrating the breadth of distinct, Black cultures will allow for the promotion of individual tradition and the opportunity for students within the Union to share their heritage and history with others. 

Togetherness, community and student engagement are the aspects that define the Black Student Union’s outreach efforts; these are the qualities that will be brought to the forefront at their “Celebrating Resilience and Strength” gala.

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