No one gets through college alone. Whether it is friends and family or support from devoted educators at the University, having a support system is an asset on an academic journey. Unfortunately, many students of color feel they are missing that support. The University Campus Climate Assessment published last April stated, “Students (of color) felt there was little if any support for their needs as underrepresented students.” Fortunately, this is not true of everyone’s experience. Black Colleagues Association (BCA) scholarship recipient Totiana Sudduth has found diversity, inclusion, and support.
Sudduth, a senior legal studies major from Bellwood, received the renewable Judge Russell DeBow Scholarship her entire tenure at Illinois State. She hopes to gain experience in her field after graduating and then apply to law school. When asked why she chose Illinois State, she replied because it was diverse, and it just felt like home.
“We have the Lavender Graduation for the LGBTQ community, Umoja as a special graduation for the black community, and Nuestros Logros to celebrate Latino/a graduates. There is something here for everyone,” said Sudduth.
Something for everyone is what she found as well. Beyond the financial impact, Sudduth stressed the impact of having the black community in her corner at Illinois State. Despite changing her major early on and facing other challenges, she had a network of alumni to rely on for advice and motivation. She believes their support was instrumental in her success.
“It’s the one stable thing I had in college. Through the major change and everything it was the one thing I could count on. The people wanted us to succeed, they wanted us to win, and they brought us into the black community at ISU.”
As she begins her final semester as an undergraduate, Sudduth reflects on her time here at Illinois State.
“I would like to extend a huge thank you to my BCA family. They have been a huge blessing to me and I’m so thankful for everyone’s help over the four years. People don’t have to invest in students and they do, and I appreciate it.”