When Sarahn Sanfoka came to Loyola Marymount University, The Learning Community and Office of Black Student Services sparked her interest in the African-American community on campus. Now as a senior, she’s looking to inspire future students to continue to build that community.
Sarahn Sanfoka, senior
Major: Psychology, Minor: Journalism
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Entering my first semester at LMU, I participated in TLC (The Learning Community), a program designed to help African-American students as they enter college and integrate into the larger LMU community. It was during my time in TLC that I met Melvin Robert, then interim director at the Office of Black Student Services (OBSS).
Melvin supported me in my interests of psychology and journalism. He encouraged me to compose a monthly newsletter for the office to highlight the activities, thoughts, feelings and happenings around the African-American community on campus. My early experiences at LMU in TLC and with OBSS sparked a deep interest in what was being created among the Black students on campus, and how that helped to shape their overall experience at LMU. I knew the importance of sharing this information, as a way to strengthen our small community and create pride and connection for the students in future classes.
While both joyous and traumatic experiences have brought our community together over the past few years, Black History Month (BHM) has always represented a time when we can celebrate our ancestors and each other. I’m so happy to see how BHM has grown and developed over the past four years while remaining to cultivate positive energy, encourage expression, and enlighten students through its events and programs.
This year to celebrate, I created a LMU Black History Month blog that focuses on the arts, culture, concerns, triumphs and more of members of the Black community on campus. The blog is designed to serve as a mark in time, so that future classes can add content during BHM and look back in time to be inspired and influenced to continue building the community.
My Student EXP has been about finding strength in overcoming challenges and reflecting on those challenges to inspire voice and vulnerability in the lives of others.
Working at Ethnic & Intercultural Services has enhanced my passion for culture and community. It has taught me the power of having a voice. In higher education, minority students aren’t always encouraged to express their opinion openly, to be comfortable challenging commonly held ideals or to initiate activism at their universities.
My role at OBSS has allowed me to witness the meaningful experiences had on campus that have helped build African-American students’ character, pride and respect for themselves and others. I have also resourced OBSS to participate in other leadership opportunities on campus including, Orientation Leaders, SIS (Sisters in Solidarity), TLC staff and the Truth About the Fact International Journal of Literary Nonfiction.
My experiences, along with those of my African-American counterparts, have taught me the power of self-love and encouraged diversity of thought. They have also given me the courage to act for others, and I will take that with me beyond LMU as I continue to strengthen in my life.
My Student EXP has been about finding strength in overcoming challenges and reflecting on those challenges to inspire voice and vulnerability in the lives of others. My time at OBSS has enhanced my perception of the African-American community both on and off campus and given me the tools to live and build a life of purpose.
Check out the LMU Black History Month blog to learn more about Sarahn’s and other students’ experiences at LMU.
My Student EXP is a series of student profiles, where in their own words, Loyola Marymount University students write about the co-curricular experiences that have helped shape them during time on the bluff.