The San Jacinto College Mosaic Program supports African American and Black-identifying students. Its mentoring and bridge program connects students with faculty and staff who have relatable life and educational experiences to share.
Mosaic Family Night, a cross-campus event on Feb. 17, welcomed faculty, staff, students, and their families to celebrate African American culture. Attendees came together for an evening of food, games, raffle prizes, arts and crafts, presentations, and entertainment centering around Black History Month.
"Word search and networking activities were such a hit," said Angie Sprowl, South Campus sociology professor. "The word search activity demonstrated the importance of Black History Month by identifying, recognizing, and celebrating people and events that pertain to Black history. The networking activity demonstrated the importance of this skill by providing an opportunity to understand what it feels like to network."
Sprowl believes Mosaic establishes a very important role for mentorship, which allows San Jac students to learn about "diverse disciplines" through an assigned mentor who coaches one-on-one outside their regularly scheduled classes.
"Most importantly, they see examples of professional behavior and can then envision themselves as a professional, no matter where their career or work life leads," Sprowl said. "It is important to help students feel connected and supported along their academic journey."
She is confident the program will aid student success and support the needs of this diverse student population on all campuses.
Elsie Bura, computer science major, presented at the event and wooed the audience with her heartfelt poem "The Absence of Color."
"The Mosaic family night was an opportunity to connect with a new part of my San Jac community, and like I said in my poem, I only recently realized that I am Black," Bura joked. "When interacting with other Black-identifying and African American students, I felt a kinship even though I lived on the other side of the world for 18 years. It was interesting to recognize the parallels between cultures."
Bura said reciting her poem in front of an audience "was absolutely terrifying," and her hands trembled from the moment she took the mic.
"But it was also freeing," Bura said. "I spent part of my childhood feeling inferior because of my dark skin, and in sharing my experience, I reclaimed the power that I had allowed to be taken from me. For those who saw themselves in my poem, I hope that they also saw the path to self-love."
Student Crystal Obi-Okoye recited a Maya Angelo poem that held sentimental value to her, and former student Freddy Bitondo chimed in on a Zoom broadcast. He spoke of his own journey after landing at San Jac from abroad, and event participants from all campuses asked him questions about his cultural and educational experiences. Bitondo said his time at San Jac "was amazing" and professors who took the time to mentor him were instrumental in his pathway to success, which he found as a math teacher.
More to come
Susan Eason, accounting and general business professor, leads the Mosaic Family Night events on South Campus. She was pleased with the turnout and support the event received.
"We received many positive comments from the students, their families, and College faculty and staff who attended," Eason said. "Our program was impactful and offered information on campus student support services, health, and wellness."
The next Mosaic Family Night will be in April 2022. To learn more about Mosaic, visit sanjac.edu/mosaic.