Black Student Union President Loves To See Fellow Students ‘Shine’
For many Black students at Minnesota State Mankato, the first few weeks on campus can challenge their success as a college student. By the end of the year, many of those same students are finding themselves or fellow student role models stepping into the spotlight cast by the annual Ebony Ball.
This year’s formal ball is tonight (Friday, March 23) at 7 p.m. in the Centennial Student Union Ballroom.
“Black Excellence” will be the theme as five Black students are recognized for personal achievement during the event organized by the Black Student Union and the Office of African American Affairs.
For Rosalin Cobb, president of the BSU, the evening is about recognizing personalities, abilities and possibilities.
“It’s a night to highlight what we accomplish and to recognize how each of us can change the future if we set our minds to it,” Cobb said.
‘It’s a night to highlight what we accomplish and to recognize how each of us can change the future if we set our minds to it.’
– Rosalin Cobb
The evening event, open to the campus community, will feature five top student awards including the Michael T. Fagin Award. The award named for former dean of Institutional Diversity and founder of the nationally renowned Michael T. Fagin Pan-African Conference. Other top student awards include outstanding upperclass student, outstanding freshman/sophomore student, student advocating political and social change and student advocating inclusivity.
Cobb said several fun awards will also be awarded during the ceremony. Entertainment for the evening features two drag performances, student singers, an Asian American dance performance and a poetry recital. The night concludes with a DJ dance.
Cobb, who earned the 2017 Homecoming Royalty crown, said being president of BSU has been another crowning accomplishment in her college career at Minnesota State Mankato. Graduating this spring with her marketing degree, she said she found her “home on campus” through her BSU involvement. Like many Black students arriving to campus, Cobb said she needed to overcome initial “culture shock.”
“It’s an adjustment. You have to get outside your comfort zone. It can be very scary and intimidating,” she said. “Sometimes it just takes a while.”
The Multicultural Center and later the BSU helped Cobb make the adjustment.
“I had work-study in the Multicultural Center. There I had a bunch of different ‘moms’ working in multicultural that helped get me out of my shell ‘…did you get that scholarship application done? Do it right now. You only have until tomorrow….’ They took the initiative to help.”
When she realized she needed more leadership experience, she got involved in BSU.
“The BSU’s mission is creating a space for learning, professional development and getting in touch with one’s cultural identity. For me, it’s my baby,” the BSU president said with pride. “The BSU really touches me. It’s made me feel connected and welcome. That’s when I realized I really like this school.”
Among her BSU accomplishments was seeing greater collaboration between African American members and international African students. The BSU and the African Student Association meet bi-weekly to plan joint activities, programs and events.
“We’re all friends, we all hang out.” she said.
Following tonight’s Ebony Ball, Saturday’s annual African Night in the CSU Ballroom is one of the most popular cultural nights on campus.
Besides building lifelong friendships, and networking opportunities, Cobb said great reward comes from watching others succeed. Among her proudest moments was BSU earning top LipSync honors at last homecoming’s popular event.
“It was great to see them shine,” said the St. Paul native.
With graduation just weeks away, Cobb said she plans to enter the working world before pursuing her master’s degree. With her she takes a sense of accomplishment that she helped advance campus awareness, achievement and inclusion with far reaching expectations and results.
“We are more than just a cultural organization,” Cobb said. “We do things for change which affects everyone at the end of the day.”