What does People of Color Empowerment Week Mean to You?

There is only one time a year that I get to listen to cumbia on campus and that is during POC Empowerment Week. Seeing aspects of your culture represented outside of home is a magical feeling. During this week, I get to see my fellow Lawrentians of color be inspired and inspire others through their art forms, as they bring a slice of their homes and cultures to campus. For that reason I hope this week continues to make others feel at home for many years to come.

-Jessenia Zelaya ‘20

People of Color Empowerment Week is important to me because it is a week that is structured to making people of color feel seen and important. Going to a PWI is difficult as a person of color as these systems were meant to make us fail. Not only does this week provide representation that’s often missing, it also gives people of color to empower themselves and each other. It makes us feel seen in an institution that has historically worked to diminish and erase the voices of people of color.

-Shelby Siebers 20

As a black woman at a PWI, it is important to me that we have time to celebrate people of color. Although, POC should be celebrated every single time, this week gives us an opportunity to show everyone how unique and special we all are. It is important that people on campus see us, hear us and acknowledge that we exist. I look forward to POC Empowerment Week every year because it always feels magical. It is amazing to see what our people are capable of. As a senior it is heartwarming to see the evolution of POC empowerment week.

-Shonell Benjamin ‘20

POC Empowerment Week to me means added attention to our different cultures, ways of expression and emphasis to our identity in an environment that doesn’t necessarily embrace our differences at all times.

-Daniela Villagomez ‘22

POC empowerment week means representation and a celebration of the many Latinx identities and other unrepresented minorities in a predominantly white institution.

-Kelly Vences ‘21

POC Empowerment Week means a lot to me because for one week our school functions as it should, with elevated and celebrated voices, opinions, knowledge and talent of POC students. It got people to gather, dance, volunteer, have conversation and revel in our peers talent. I hope our future functions like this. My favorite moment was watching an older woman from the community walk away from cultural expressions in a state of restorative joy and absolute amazement. It seemed like she had full faith that the young POC on this campus were gonna set the world straight.

-Christina Sedall ‘20

POC Empowerment week is the only time on the campus in which I am truly seen. It seems to be the only week in which the wider community sees me for my talent, magic, intelligence and character instead of just another point for “diversity.” I am able to express who I am without fighting for a space to put it on display. I wish every week was like POC Empowerment Week; it feels good to be seen.

-Meralis Álvarez ‘22

Being a person of color on campus, it means a lot to me. It’s a time to celebrate and put all of our cultural similarities and differences on display for the whole community to see. It has been a great experience being able to watch and experience others’ cultures as well as participating in showing people my culture.

-Shaun Brown ‘21

POC Empowerment Week used to be a time where I could just be the most unapologetically black woman I could possibly be. It was the week of supporting my fellow POC but also being empowered as well and feeling radical and felt like I could yell “move I’m black!” And people would move.   

-Jordyn Plieseis ‘19

POC Empowerment Weekend gives us the opportunity to express our voices and creativity without feeling restricted. It’s a time where POC can be creative without feeling criticized by white students.

-Jesus Sanchez ‘20

What POC Empowerment means to me is the time when POC come together and share a sense of belonging to a white society. As a community, its about coming together to breakdown the stereotype wall, to educate others about our cultures, and to have our voices heard.

-Lara Ramirez ‘23

It means understanding that you belong here just as much, if not more than, your more privileged counterparts (or fellow companions).

-Imani Williams ’23 

POC Empowerment Week is important to me because this is an opportunity for people of color to come together in union with one another. It’s an opportunity to have our voices heard, our stories told, our ideas listened to, and our feelings understood as we navigate life at a predominately white institution. 

-Darrion Cutler ‘21

To me, POC Empowerment Week is one of the only times I, along with my POC community, can celebrate and feel appreciated for our presence on campus. The week is more than just a couple of events that showcase the diverseness of POC on this campus. It’s a chance for us to reground and reaffirm our identity as POC thriving in a space that isn’t always intended for us. POC Empowerment week has historically, and will continue to be, the one week that I feel 100% empowered in my identity, as a student of color on Lawrence’s campus! 

-Taneya Garcia ‘22

POC empowerment establishes a sense of unity & belonging to me. Each event is tailored to endorse everyone that is often overlooked at a PWI. It provides me with the comfort I feel back at home. POC empowerment week accentuates the POC presence on campus and educates others on what makes us, us.

-Genesis Coreas ‘23

It means embracing and acknowledging the history and impact of people of history. Their strength, grace, love and intelligence.

-Raven Ganaway ‘23

POC Empowerment Week is the week I can embody the color of my skin and have fun with the rest of POC community. 

-Jacelynn Allen ‘20