Deyna Hearn, Founder of the Black Collegians Program
As we conclude a month's celebration of the numerous accomplishments of African Americans around the world during Black History Month, we must remember to acknowledge and honor the African American community and its contributions to the growth of Santa Monica College.
Today the Black Collegians Program serves hundreds of students on a daily basis, but just over 10 years ago it didn't exist.
In 1995, SMC's Transfer Center was excelling greatly but the transfer rate for African Americans on campus was low.
In the efforts to increase it, the president contacted a woman by the name of Deyna Hearn.
"At the time I was working in the Counseling Center and was approached by the president at the time, I was asked to increase the transfer rate of African American students on campus. That's how the idea of Black Collegians began," said Hearn, the assistant dean of student life.
Once the program took roots it began the steps to achievement.
"I ran it out of my office in the Counseling Center. Six students participated in the very beginning, and within five years the transfer rate among African Americans was in the hundreds," said Hearn.
Even though Hearn may have started the program she was not alone.
Sherri Lee Lewis volunteered her assistance with the mentor component of the program, and Teresa Hall volunteered to assist with the scholarship component.
During this time the scholarships were supplied by over 100 faculty, staff, administration and Black Collegians alumni, and the Santa Monica Branch of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority from their very own pockets. The awards funded by these generous people were then rewarded to students who were primarily transferring from Santa Monica College.
The humble but determined story of the birth of Black Collegians Program is one of amazement.
"The success of the program is all due to the college owning it like every other program on the campus. It's no longer referred to as 'Deyna's Program,' but a part of the school! I am very pleased," said Hearn.
As the program grew at rapid speed, the Black Collegians Club was making its mark at Santa Monica College. Many know of the Black Collegians Club today, but in 1996 when it was first established it was the Historical Black College Club.
True to its name, this club was geared toward African American students on campus who wanted to transfer to historically black colleges; they were known for taking trips to several black colleges.
Now 10 years later the Black Collegians Club (BCC) continues to support students on campus in achieving their academic and career goals. "The mission of BCC is to help in the social aspect, such as meeting new people whether it be during events or association with other groups on campus. BCC works with every club on campus," said Barry Eggleston II, president of BCC.
With over 40 active members, the BCC doesn't discriminate against anyone. "The club is very diverse, there is a mix of Asians, Hispanics, and African Americans. It's a mix of everything," said Eggleston.
Students within the club receive excellent support from the counselors located in the Counselor Center. "The counselors help in all aspects of the students life."
For many students BCC becomes a second home for them to retreat to. "The club is like a haven to me, it's made my stay here more enjoyable. Through the BCC I received a wonderful internship at an Entertainment P.R firm," said Eggleston.
"I joined both the program and club by referral of a friend. The BCC helped guide me through the obstacles; without them I wouldn't be graduating with a 3.0 and have the ability to transfer to a four-year college," said Farrah Mirzaee.
For those who are interested in joining BCC the meetings start March 8 in LS101 from 11:15 a.m. to 12: 35 p.m.
This semester BCC is planning numerous event, including a Bowl-a-Thon, college tour of the Bay Area, and a club picnic involving other clubs.