New honor society geared toward African American students
Students in the African American Studies department are taking on the challenge of recreating an honor society on campus for students.
The Ankh Maat Wedjau Society is a national honor society for academically driven black students interested in the study of the African diaspora. The UH chapter, Songhai, prides itself as an organization that focuses on being a safe haven for students to discuss topics relating to Pan-African topics and as a place for community engagement. The organization’s president, graphic design senior Da’Vonte Lyons, is focused on bringing this culture to life on campus.
“It’s important to have a space available to engage in discussion on Afro-centric issues,” Lyons said. “I want the students that join to understand that this is a place for critical thinking and creating solutions to problems that plague our community.”
Topics of discussion for the group range among African history, current social issues and life as a black college student. The organization aims to create solutions to problems within the black community and finding ways to address future goals. Representatives of the organization were present at the recent department-led Ferguson discussion that took place at the UC in September.
“We want to stay aware of what’s going on in our community every day, and we want to find out how to halt some of the tragedies that continue to strike us,” Lyons said.
Although the organization is new for this year’s board members, the society has been at UH before. Due to difficulties with maintaining membership and leadership roles, the board is looking at ways to make sure that the organization is sustainable.
“I think that trying different avenues of advertising our society to get the word out there for students is extremely important,” said liberal studies senior and AWS secretary Ashley Davis.
“If students know about us and what we do, I believe they will come out and provide ideas for our group.”
Students have already heard about the organization through flyers and word-of-mouth.
“Da’Vonte told me about this organization that sounded very great and different than other organizations that I’d heard of on campus,” said biomedical engineering freshman Lionel Namga.
The honor society takes its lessons of community engagement beyond of its meetings. The group seeks to empower the lives of university students, schools, surrounding neighborhoods, and anywhere else they can extend their reach to.
“We’re definitely looking to get involved with our community leaders and members to create a true impact,” said communications senior and AWS sergeant at arms Dana Maule.
To qualify for membership, students must fill out an application and meet the minimum 2.7 GPA requirement.
“One of my main goals is to raise awareness amongst issues that affect African Americans,” Lyons said.
“I want to create a flow of conversation amongst us and to have a space available for students to share their thoughts without feeling the pressure that sometimes happens in classroom discussions.”
The Anhk Maat Wedjau Society meets every first Thursday of the month in the African American Studies conference room.