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Heartland Black Student Union founders leave their mark

May 6, 2021

The founding members of Heartland Community College’s (HCC) Black Student Union (BSU) may be graduating this spring, but their impact on the College will make long-lasting waves. 

BSU’s mission is to promote educational success, unity, and prosperity in all their members. Heartland’s BSU Foundation was established in 2016 with the vision of former Dean of Student Support Services, Anita Moore-Bohannon, and support from other HCC staff/faculty. Then, with the dedication and contributions of Heartland students Tijuana Beal, Chase Brown, Taylor Washington, and Emory Davis, BSU’s mission was not only put to action, it was brought to life. 

“There are no words that can express how proud I am of these Black Student Union leaders,” said Tiara Randle, BSU advisor and HCC Assitant Director of TRIO Student Support Services. “They have shifted our community culture for the better by embracing difficult, yet necessary conversations. In the midst of our country’s perpetuated racial injustice, they continuously demonstrate for our campus the beauty of Black resilience. Tijuana, Chase, Taylor, and Emory will keep making history wherever they go. I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked alongside each of them.” 

Tijuana Beal served as BSU president this semester while completing her Associate’s in Arts (AA) in Early Education. After graduating, Tijuana will work at the Boys & Girls Club. 

Chase Brown, BSU’s former Vice President and HCC Student Government Association’s current Vice President, will also graduate with an AA. He then will transfer to the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, CA where he will study music scoring and composition. 

Taylor Washington served BSU as a former Events Coordinator. She will graduate with her AA this spring as well and has plans to pursue her interest in fashion. 

Emory Davis, former BSU President, graduated in the fall of 2020 and is now working towards his Bachelor’s in Entrepreneurship & Small Business Management at Illinois State University. 

“It is such an honor being an advisor to an amazing organization and the phenomenal students in it,” said Brittany Perkins, BSU advisor and HCC Administrative Assistant, Adult Education. “To the leaders of the Black Student Union, I salute you. The dedication and passion that you put behind each event, campus conversation, and community outreach is admirable. To witness you navigate spaces where you constantly break down barriers, and do it with such grace has truly been an inspiration.” 

Impactful events that Tijuana, Chase, Taylor, and Emory helped organized include A Night in Harlem, a celebration of the diversity of Black art and creators; Open Mic, which gave students a creative outlet to express themselves verbally; Hidden Figures, an annual honoring of HCC’s Black faculty/staff on campus and across social media for Black History Month; and Table Talks, recurring safe spaces to discuss topics like diversifying Heartland’s curriculum, activism strategies, women’s empowerment, the significance of Marvel’s Black Panther film, and much more. 

“To these BSU leaders, thank you for stepping up and going to combat for the students of color on HCC's campus. You have started the conversations and set the foundation for those that will come after you," added Perkins. "You created a space where Black Excellence was celebrated and where we were able to flourish and thrive by simply being unapologetically us. I am so proud of you all and I am excited for what is to come with the Black Student Union.” 

Heartland’s BSU works toward their goals in unity and prosperity through facilitating academic workshops, peer-to-peer mentorship, hosting successful African-American guest speakers, and more. Learn more about HCC’s BSU and how to get involved at https://heartland.campuslabs.com/engage/organization/bsu.

Written by: Steve Fast