Indiana State University Newsroom

Summit offers minority female students support navigating higher education

October 8, 2014

The most successful college experiences are ones with a balanced approach to handling personal well-being and academics students, Indiana State University students discovered at the university's first Black Women's Student Summit.

Nearly 300 students signed up for the Oct. 4 event, which was co-sponsored by Student Health Promotion, the university's Office of Diversity and the Black Faculty and Staff Caucus.

The summit grew out of a discussion on programs for black women on campus. The idea came to fruition with input from focus groups, where students expressed an interest having an opportunity to discuss what it means to be black women at Indiana State, said Joni Clark, a summit committee member and interim associate director of student wellness.

The event provided culturally-based information and support through six workshops meant to help female students maximize their time on campus as members of the Indiana State and Terre Haute communities.

"College is definitely stressful at times, but the friends I've made in the first few weeks of school have really helped me adjust," said Keishawn Taylor, a freshman undeclared major from Chicago. "Coming to today's summit is really giving me great ways to work on my communication skills in a way that will help me in college."

The workshop tips covered personal care on a budget and tight schedule, information on how to maximize beauty and budget, making the best online and face-to-face impressions, ideas for "carving out me time," and engaging students in a conversation about personal conduct.

Proof that focus and determination will help them reach graduation day, Azizi Arrington-Bey, assistant professor of interior architecture design and one of 310 licensed African American architects in the U.S., said a student's past doesn't have to reflect where they are headed.

"I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, neither of my parents has a college degree, my two brothers went to college but didn't graduate, and I am a black woman. Most people would say I shouldn't be where I am today," she said. "But I am who I am because I did not let my story define me. I let my passion and my dreams define me. That will be important for you to remember because the success of the community begins with you."

Rosiline Floyd, who earned a PhD in higher education leadership from Indiana State and serves as director of research and evaluation for Tindley Accelerated Schools Network - a nonprofit education management organization that operates the Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School, Tindley Preparatory Academy, Tindley Collegiate, Tindley Summit and Arlington High School in Indianapolis - explained how putting all of the workshop's tips into action can lead to a more successful experience with higher education.

But success won't come without help from others, Floyd said, so she recommended students speak up when then need help and get to know their professors, who can assist them in navigating through their college education.

"Research shows that 47 percent of black females who start college will finish in six years," she said. "To get more black women earning college degrees, they need to know it's OK to say 'I'm a student first, but know that there is a benefit to belonging to the community because when you belong to something, it makes you committed to it and stick with it."

That's exactly what Indianapolis native Amber Wilson did and now she plans to graduate in May with a Bachelor of Science in health sciences with a concentration in public health.

"No matter what obstacles you run into, let nothing stop you (from earning a college degree)," Wilson told the students. "Reach out to people on campus who can help you get where you want to go because, I assure you, they want to see you succeed."

Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or