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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Suffolk’s Celebration of Black Excellence Ceremony recognizes students, staff, alumni for outstanding support on campus

Alexis Chrochiere
The Celebration of Black Excellence event had over 300 attendees.

Suffolk University’s annual Celebration of Black Excellence Ceremony recognized members of the Suffolk community for their contributions to the university March 22. 

In addition to the awards, Suffolk President Marisa Kelly named Trent Masiki as the next Director of Black Studies. 

Students Selvin Backert, Prince Iheonunekqu and Samantha Smart from Suffolk’s Black Student Union were awarded for their outstanding performances on campus.

Suffolk alum Rebecca Zama sang a rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by Michael Cooper that brought attendees to their feet to sing along. Zama graduated from Suffolk with a bachelor’s degree in 2019.

Professor of law Elbert Robertson was also recognized for his excellence along with alumni Jennifer Barthelemy-Nerestant, Tamika Correia Jacques and Widmine “Lola” Remy.

“Honestly when I was a student I felt so welcomed, and to be back, it just shows that they still welcome you no matter how old you are,” said Barthelemy-Nerestant. “I think it’s important to raise money for not just Black students, but all students because we all deserve a chance.” 

Merchandise was for sale in the lobby with proceeds going toward a scholarship for Suffolk students. 

“It’s such a great opportunity for the Suffolk Black alumni community to get together and to recognize each other and other community members and I think these kinds of accomplishments can’t go unrecognized,” said Jennifer Blakely, a past honoree and assistant director for operations and strategic outcomes.

These students, professors and alumni were highlighted at this event to celebrate their success at Suffolk. From their grades, activity in extracurriculars on campus and professional work after college, each person was awarded because of their individual excellence.

Iheonunekwu was able to obtain a 4.0 throughout his entire undergraduate career, and Jaques now has a published novel, “A Brown Parents Guide: Preparing Our Children For Employment In The 21st Century,” that upon publication, reached the top of Amazon’s best selling list.

Backert from the College of Arts and Sciences and Smart representing the Law School spoke on what being honored at the event meant for them.

“I’ve loved my experience at Suffolk Law, it has exceeded my expectations and I love my Boston community so I am grateful to them for allowing me to be a leader for three years now and truly investing in a community that invested in me,” said Smart. “It’s really more of an honor and a privilege than anything.”

Backert will graduate in May with a degree in history and a concentration in public history, while also being part of Suffolk’s track team and serving as the outreach committee chair for BSU.

“I really wouldn’t be up here without the support from everyone at BSU, I think the reason I’m up here getting an award for Black excellence is because I was surrounded by it, whether it’s the people on my E-board or whether it’s the committee members who are even here today,” said Backert.

Those within the community who attended cheered on their classmates from their seats and got a networking opportunity out of the event as well.

“The Black Alumni Network represents the unity that can happen on a very large scale, there’s a lot of schools and universities where people graduate, especially people of color graduate, and they forget about the people that come after them, but I feel like events like this represent the type of people that give back and uplift their community,” said Student Government Association President Clinton Oreofe.

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About the Contributor
Alexis Crochiere, Asst. News Editor | she/her
Lex Crochiere is a Broadcast Journalism major from Taunton, Mass. When she's not writing for the Journal she can be found in the editing lab, at the gym, or listening to the Cranberries.

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