Black Alumni Society celebrates 20th anniversary

Growth of organization centers on alumni, student connections

KENNESAW, Ga. (Feb. 13, 2020) — When Devon Faulk, ’93, talks about her involvement with the Black Alumni Society at Kennesaw State, she is excited about its positive impact on alumni and students, and the bridge it has created in the campus community.

Jamila Young welcomes guests
Jamila Young, president of KSU's Black Alumni Society, welcomes guests at the BAS celebration dinner on Feb. 5.

Faulk co-chairs and serves on the scholarship and fundraiser committee of KSU’s Black Alumni Society, an organization that promotes and facilitates the engagement of African-American and African alumni at KSU. The organization celebrated its 20th anniversary on Feb. 5.

“The Black Alumni Society creates a sense of community for our members to meet mentors who look like us and to build corporate connections to expose members to a variety of avenues,” said Faulk, who works in talent acquisition. “The power of networking is strong.”

BAS executive board members
BAS executive board members Ashley Nealy, Janna Pruiett, Everett Matthew Upchurch Butler, and Jamila Young.
An affinity group of the KSU Alumni Association, the organization offers activities in professional and social networking, volunteerism and mentoring, including happy hours, mix and mingle events, service projects and other educational outings. BAS recently hosted their 20th anniversary celebration weekend with a networking and mingle event on Friday, followed by a Saturday dinner to honor the organization’s legacy, past leadership and members.

“BAS is here to uplift the extension of the relationships we created as students and give alumni a new place to call home,” said Jamila Young, ’09, president of KSU’s Black Alumni Society. New alumni, she added, are often looking for a place where they can stay connected with the University.

One of the early tenets of BAS was to be an extension of the undergraduate experience, focusing on connecting with and providing a resource for KSU students before they graduated, explained Bob Wise, who served as the organization’s third president.

Wise said that the future of BAS rested with the students, so maintaining relationships with future alumni was integral. At that time, the organization had close ties with the African American Student Association, and some of the first bylaws for BAS put a firm emphasis on engaging with current students.

That focus remains strong even today, said Young, who just began her two-year term as president last summer. Each semester, BAS sponsors a reception for graduating seniors after the Onyx Graduation Ceremony to further celebrate and connect with students as they make the transition to alumni status.

The Black Alumni Society has worked diligently over the past two decades to cultivate a sense of pride, integrity and philanthropy among its members.

guests at BAS
Guests at the Black Alumni Society's 20th anniversary celebration meet and mingle.

Nathan Humphrey, KSU Alumni Association president, said that BAS actively engages alumni so that they know what Kennesaw State is doing and how it is growing, which further deepens their connection with the Alumni Association.

“The Black Alumni Society is an extension of the work that we do to serve alumni, and their longstanding tenure as an affinity alumni group at KSU reflects on their unwavering commitment to build a strong community,” said Humphrey.

The BAS was officially chartered in February 2000, beginning with just a handful of members and has grown to hundreds of black alumni members across the country. 

“We’ve made leaps and bounds with the organization, and while we may still be small in numbers, its growth is because of the passion of its leadership and its members,” Faulk added.

The group’s hard work is also being noticed at the state level. During the group’s recent anniversary celebration on Feb. 5, a Georgia House Resolution, to recognize and commend KSU’s Black Alumni Society, was presented by three Georgia Representatives, Erick E. Allen of the 40th District, Dar'shun Kendrick of the 93rd District and Doreen Carter of the 92nd District, all of whom are KSU Executive MBA alumni.

Allen presents the Georgia House Resolution
State Representative Erick E. Allen presents the Georgia House Resolution to recognize and commend the BAS.

Young is excited about the future direction of the Black Alumni Society and engaging alumni everywhere, not just in the Atlanta region, and Faulk hopes that the BAS continues to expand its grassroots efforts to reach more alumni.

“We are building a foundation for an organization that feels like family, where we can discuss issues, network and relate to each other,” Faulk said. She reconnected with Kennesaw State’s Alumni Association and the Black Alumni Society when she moved back to the state, after living in Florida while earning her law degree

Young and Faulk agree that connecting and reconnecting with people, whether it’s alumni or current students, is the best part of being involved with the Black Alumni Society.

“I love the fact that alumni from all career paths can come together and see how much we’ve grown individually since graduation,” Young said. “And it’s beautiful to see how we have evolved and flourished to make this organization thrive.”

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Photo credit: Lauren Liz Photography