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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Black Student Union President is prioritizing ‘community and unity’

Aubany Russell poses for a photo. (Photo courtesy of Russell)

Aubany Russell, a junior mechanical engineering major, said she’s “arguably, too involved.”

Russell is president of the Black Student Union (BSU), is in a sorority, interns at the National Institute for Aviation Research, serves as a chairperson in the Student Government Association, and more.

Despite the many roles she fills on campus, Russell said she’s learned to balance it all. 

“Burnout is very real,” she said. “But taking the time for myself and knowing myself and prioritizing what it is that I need to prioritize helps me sort of get out of that headspace.”

Russell entered her leadership role in BSU as a fundraising and events coordinator last year. She’s been closely involved with everything the group does and carries that experience into her new position. 

Tamia Trotter, a junior nursing major, was a fundraising and events coordinator with Russell. Trotter said that she and Russell organized events, including game nights and a pool party, with the goal of creating a feeling of community among the members. 

“I think it just helped BSU flourish,” she said.

For the last two years, BSU has set a theme of “community and unity” as a way to guide its goals and programs. Russell said she and the organization are doing so by making students feel welcome and highlighting BSU’s other initiatives like BSU “families.” 

“Families” are smaller groups of members that have events together organized by a member of the executive team.

“It’s kind of just a way to have those interpersonal connections within BSU,” Russell said.

The importance of community is something that Russell knows well — something she said she has a hard time finding in her academic life.

“It’s subtle things, like being the only Black woman in my class, not necessarily being able to connect with any of my peers or when it comes to partner work, having to work alone, just really having to depend on yourself in those spaces,” she said. 

“It’s taxing at times, but I think it comes down to just being confident in yourself and in those spaces.” 

To build confidence in professional spaces, BSU also holds professional development events. 

“Recently, we’ve delved into our ‘Securing the Job’ series,” Russell said. 

The series included a resume workshop and mock interviews, as well as weekly study halls. Russell said she’s hoping to end the series by hosting a job fair. 

Russell said she cherishes every minute of everything she’s been involved in. 

“I’m grateful for all the opportunities that I’ve been given and all the people that I’ve met.”

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About the Contributor
Ainsley Smyth
Ainsley Smyth, Reporter
Ainsley Smyth is a second-year reporter for The Sunflower. Smyth is a sophomore communications major with an emphasis in journalism and media productions. Her dream job is to travel back in time 30 years and then be a reporter for Rolling Stone. Smyth uses she/her pronouns.

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