‘Black Excellence Gala’ honors students


Aileen Guzman

Schettler (left) and Williams (right) awarding Clayton the Africana Studies award. (Aileen Guzman/The Collegian)

By Aileen Guzman, Contributor

The NAACP gala was truly a night dedicated to celebrating, loving and appreciating Black Excellence. From the moment the music started to attendees arriving with their sparkly dresses and slick suits, the sense of celebration and community started before the event actually began.

The event recognized leaders and students Black leaders for their hard work with awards, dancing, scholarships and an overall sense of appreciation. Before being seated, many attendees were seen embracing each other’s presence with a hug or a compliment.

Some were seen giving loud compliments to each other from across the room. All were dressed in their best outfits having small conversations with one another before the event began. Hugging and greeting each other with smiles and laughter. Not a single face in the room was upset. Everyone was in the moment appreciating and encompassing the happiness in the room.

The NAACP hosted its first annual Black Excellence Gala in honor of the achievements of Black students from Fresno State this past year. The event was held in the Satellite Student Union on Friday, March 3 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The night started with an introductory speech by NAACP president Kaywanna Williams, followed by an acknowledgment speech from Matthew Jedian, the professor and director of humanics.

Kayla Collins sang the Black National Anthem before attendees were served dinner.

“I am very excited. I was over there just a second ago sitting like I was nervous but I started praying, and God just took away my nervousness,” Collins said before heading to the stage.

After dinner, most of the awards had been presented by keynote speakers D’Aungillique Jackson, former ASI president; Meta Schettler, the Africana Studies coordinator; Krissy Timmons, NAACP membership chair; Mistique Davis, secretary; and Oriana Benton, treasurer of the NAACP.

The first awards that were given out honored the most active member and community-involved member. The recipient for most active member went to Jerimiah Bobian, a freshman at Fresno State. The award for community involvement was awarded to Davis.

Jackson presented the award to Davis. Before handing out the award, Jackson expressed her appreciation for Davis.

“This is somebody who genuinely deserves our gratitude because they do it for everybody else except for themselves. And I think that’s really the definition of what community involvement is,” Jackson said before embracing Davis and handing her the award.

Next up to the podium was Schettler, presenting the award for Africana Studies. Before handing out the award, Shettler began by speaking about the many accomplishments of Kaliyah Clayton.

“Kaliyah epitomizes what it means to be in Africana Studies to be both a scholar and activist. We are so proud and pleased to collaborate and give this award to Kaliyah, there is no one more deserving of it,” Schettler said.

During the last few hours of the awards ceremony, the NAACP began its first Royalty Crowning which was dedicated to two members within the community of the NAACP, presented by Timmons.

In order to vote for the king and queen, attendees had to scan a QR code with the event programs that were placed at each table. The attendees could read over the short biographies of the contestants before the final results were announced.

Trinity Williams, athlete and member of Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), was voted queen. Nicholas Monroe, a pre-psychology major and youth pastor at Fresno State, was voted king.

As the night was coming to an end, a few more students were given recognition for their academic excellence.

Praise Okoli was one of the three students who won a medal for achieving and maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

“This feels awesome. I love being able to celebrate Black excellence and seeing all the beautiful women that are here and celebrating them as well and just being able to encourage each other’s spirits. Work hard, play hard,” Okoli said after receiving her medal.

After the awards ceremony, Williams gave final thank yous to all those that attended the gala.