Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

‘Students make this campus go ’round’: BSU President Kayci Resende-Abbott encourages students to speak up for what they believe in

Courtesy of Kayci Resende-Abbott

Suffolk University’s newly elected Black Student Union President Kayci Resende-Abbott has never backed away from a challenge. As a student-leader on campus, the senior has taken on a new one: changing students’ minds about standing up to authority and speaking up about what they believe in.

“If I stay quiet and I just let it happen, then it makes me even more angry and even more resentful. I think especially if students are paying to be here…then why not make their education worth it for them? At the end of the day, the students make this campus go ‘round,” Resende-Abbott said.

Resende-Abbott grew up in the heart of Boston and attended Boston Latin Academy. Suffolk was a no-brainer for her – she was looking for a solid philosophy program that also provided good financial aid, which Suffolk offered her. It also gave her the option to commute and still be close to her family.

Resende-Abbott was first introduced to BSU through the Black Studies program. She went to a few meetings, starting as a general member. About halfway through her sophomore year, she became part of the outreach committee. Her previous ideas about Suffolk and its diversity were altered once she joined BSU.

“I didn’t know there were this many Black people on this campus or at this university in general,” said Resende-Abbott. 

After attending a few general meetings and making some connections with the executive board, everything fell into place. Resende-Abbott found immense value in BSU, finding something that she did not know she needed.

“Especially with me being younger at the time, even though it was only a year ago, it was me finding representation in myself, in those people and in that historic club,” said Resende-Abbott.

Through BSU, she found community and her closest friends. Resende-Abbott said she felt isolated as a commuter, especially as a student at a university that doesn’t have a traditional campus. From day one, BSU helped her find herself and her place at Suffolk. 

“It just kind of helped open Suffolk to me, and also me to Suffolk,” she said.

In the second half of her sophomore year, Resende-Abbott took on more of a leadership position in light of the potential change of the Black Studies program. In November 2022, Suffolk College of Arts and Sciences Dean Edie Sparks announced a proposed change of the Black Studies program to Ethnic Studies.

Resende-Abbott, as a Black Studies minor, said she felt incredibly hurt by this news, sparking months of effort to keep the program. She said she wants students to speak up about the issues they are facing and know the power they hold to make change. 

“This time last year, we were actively in the conversations of ‘is this still going to be a program?’ Whereas now, it’s ‘this is a program, how are we going to build on that?’” said Resende-Abbott.

Kayla Arreaga, secretary of Suffolk’s Caribbean Student Network, has known Resende-Abbott for about nine years. They met in middle school, graduated high school together and now attend college together. Arreaga said Resende-Abbott leads with strong dedication and does everything to the best of her ability. 

“She loves to have everyone’s input and never wants anyone to feel left out,” said Arreaga. “The way she carries herself, her work and school ethic, her big heart and leadership skills are all what make her a great president.”

In August 2023, BSU announced Resende-Abbott as its new vice president. In early November, BSU announced a special election to fill the role of president. Resende-Abbott decided she wanted to run, leading to an uncontested race. 

“I just think that people see that with [my position as vice president] that I was capable of doing the job of presidency,” said Resende-Abbott.

Resende-Abbott said that one of the most important parts of BSU is having representation at Suffolk. She described how hard and painful it can be to be at a predominantly white institution where students of color essentially have to be their own representation.

Selvin Backert, a senior history major, has been a member of BSU since his sophomore year and is currently the outreach committee chair. Backert said he is confident in Resende-Abbott’s leadership skills and thinks she is a trustworthy leader.

“[She is] able to navigate through different groups of students and their various wants and needs. She runs a very tight ship; we know our positions and when we need to be done. We all have a voice to speak up and voice our opinions, but there is a system, and Kayci does a great job of keeping it in place,” said Backert.

Resende-Abbott said she feels that some students see her as a representation of them and believes she has the opportunity to impact change in ways other students might not have the opportunity to. With the Black Studies program, she said there is still a lot of work to be done, but Suffolk students and faculty have made some great progress. 

For Resende-Abbott, encouraging students to speak out about things that they find uncomfortable or unfair has been a main goal, one she has begun to further pursue as president.

“It just bothers me so much when students don’t think they have a voice, and I’m like ‘the 13th floor answers to you!’[…]their job is you,” said Resende-Abbott.

Advocacy and speaking out about racial injustice is something she’s been passionate about for a long time. Resende-Abbott was a part of a similar organization in high school, one she created during the pandemic with her classmates. Growing up in a predominantly immigrant city and having a friend group filled with people that looked like her, Resende-Abbott said she didn’t really feel the societal impact of her identity until the pandemic.

“That’s when I really felt it, the weight of being Black in this country,” said Resende-Abbott. “That’s when Black Student Union kind of came about because of that.”

She said she understands her impact and role in a position of power and how much her voice matters.

“I know how it feels to be alienated on this campus and to feel excluded, to go into a class of 30 and you being the only Black person in there…I’m only one person but this organization is a multitude of people,” Resende-Abbott said.

Resende-Abbott credited her BSU E-board with the ongoing success of the organization. 

“I say I’m president, but at the same time we all fill the same role. It’s an engine that keeps going. I’m only one person, so I can only do so much,” said Resende-Abbott.

Resende-Abbott said she wants Suffolk students to know that their voices matter, and that if everyone collectively spoke out about the issues they are facing, real change can occur. 

“I just want students to ask themselves, ‘where does the real power lie?’” said Resende-Abbott. 

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Casey Wells
Casey Wells, Staff Writer | she/her
Casey is a junior broadcast journalism major from Worcester, Massachusetts. When she isn't in the Journal office, you can find her in the Performing Arts Office or any place near campus that has coffee. In addition to the Journal, she is a dancer and on the e-board of Suffolk's dance crew, Wicked. In her free time, she loves to read, write, dance, listen to Hozier and play guitar.
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