A Royal Night indeed: The 2nd Annual Black Opulence Ball

African Student Programs hosts its 2nd Annual Black Opulence Ball after many students missed their own prom due to the pandemic.

On May 20, African Student Programs hosted its 2nd Annual Black Opulence Ball at the HUB. Dinner and an awards show was held that night. Its goal was to recognize achievements that were made by Black scholars and alumni on campus this school year. Prior to the event, nominations for students and their organizations were made. The theme was A Royal Night, and the colors of the decorations and outfits included lavender and white or cream.

Last year was the first year that African Student Programs (ASP) held this annual event. Selom Gbewonyo, an alumni from the Class of 2022 and previous student staff, initiated the event after many students of the high school graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 missed their own prom due to the pandemic. 

This year at the event there was a special student performance by Sahayla Vann, known by her stage name, Hayla V. She sang “Mood Swings” and an unreleased track “You Got It.” Dinner included tasty Italian cuisine along with dessert. Throughout the night, guests had the opportunity to take photos in the new 360 spin photo booth. At the end of the night students went on the dance floor to show off their skills in step dancing. DJ Dash, Los Angeles based disk jockey, did not disappoint when it came to the music. 

Awards were given out to students, alumni, clubs and organizations who have demonstrated leadership and commitment to the Black scholars and community on campus. The first award for Outstanding Community Service went to the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) club. I asked Kennedy Lincoln, the President of NSBE, what specific community service has NSBE done for Black scholars as far as outreach and community service. Lincoln expressed that there are several outreach programs NSBE has spearheaded. “We have the Passing the Torch Peer Mentoring Program that was established by Jordan Edwards, a current member and NSBE advisor. This program allows for Black freshman and transfer students to be mentored by Bourns College of Engineering (BCOE) upperclassmen. Secondly, we have collaborated with The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) promoting STEM to high school students.”

I talked to an African Student Program student staff member, Chianne Carrier, who organized and hosted the event this year. I asked her why this event was so important for her and what she loved most about it. 

Carrier stressed that “most seniors and juniors didn’t get the full high school experience, specifically the opportunity to celebrate all their accomplishments. I was excited [to attend] this year since I couldn’t attend last year. Giving back to the community when COVID put the world on hold was important to me. And seeing everyone having fun and dressing up made the scholars feel honored, celebrated and seen.”

Overall, it sounds like the Black Opulence Ball will continue to happen and thrive for years to come. It is important that it is continued in order to recognize Black individuals and their organizations for all of their hard work on campus, as this can often go unnoticed on campus with over 20,000+ students.