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“I believe it is important for me as an African American to know about my heritage,” says Africana Studies major Samaiyah Council ’02 of Anchorage, Alaska.

“In this field of study, I get the opportunity to research and explore the lives of all of the different people who made it possible for me to attend a school like Lafayette,” she says. “And, it’s important for a school to offer these courses so that students of all nationalities can learn about African American history. The more we know, the better we can understand, appreciate, and celebrate our differences and similarities.”

Council, who is also majoring in Spanish and minoring in biology, decided to pursue a major in Africana Studies after taking the first-year seminar course Race Matters with Bryan Washington, associate professor of English. “All of the professors within the major have been more than supportive, helpful, encouraging, and enthusiastic about the information they are presenting, ” she says. “They are extremely knowledgeable and so personable.”

One of Council’s favorite courses has been Black Writers, taught by Washington. “Professor Washington actively participates in the discussions without imposing his views on the class. There is a lot of dialogue that welcomes students to express their opinions openly. This course also gave me a chance to read great works by great authors.”

Captain of the women’s basketball team, Council plans to travel to Spain to play basketball professionally before attending graduate school to pursue a career in speech therapy. Experiencing Mexico and its culture during the summer, she says, “Studying abroad in Mexico for six weeks really opened my eyes to all the similarities between African Americans and Mexicans.”

Council is a member of the Association of Black Collegians and NIA, a women’s organization that celebrates ethnicity and sisterhood.

Categorized in: Academic News