Presidential Address to the General Assembly

February 7, 2007

Good evening Executive Board Officers, General Members, Distinguished guests, and friends of the African American Student Association tonight we come together in fellowship and gratitude for the opportunity to be apart of this great cause.  We are all here because we envision a better world in which your color doesn’t dictate who you are or what you’re capable of achieving. Thus far this organization has done an amazing job of working to accomplish that on campus at UC Merced and in the community.  We have set positive examples for others to follow and are working towards a better future, the future that we all the power to shape. I want to stress to you all how much you all have inherently within you.  You can do great things if you believe in yourself with conviction.  With that said I also want to stress the importance of unity among our organization and in the Black community as a whole.  It is imperative that this organization function as a block.  We are not only representing ourselves but African Americans as a whole at UC Merced and if we hope to attract more students of color than we must be unified.  This organization cannot be a success without the efforts of each and every one of you.  Use the talents that you have been blessed with to uplift our people.  Act as if we are the only hope.  Open up to each other, exchange ideas, goals, and aspirations and help each other work toward achieving them.  We are a team and together everyone achieves more. Help each other out knowing that even if your fellow brother or sister doesn’t return the favor the universe will.  If one of us is struggling than we all are struggling.  I urge you all to continue thinking outside of the box knowing that there are a million possibilities for you and the decisions that you can make in life.  Be creative, be an activist, make a difference.   Find out the issues that are adversely affecting you and do something about them.

 I envision UC Merced to be an amazing place for African American students to learn and grow.  I foresee an environment where there are actually Black professors that understand the struggles that we endure to even be university students.  I imagine a university community that is diverse and tolerant of others and their cultures and customs and embraces them.  I visualize UC Merced becoming a major hub for political and social activity within the Black community in California and on the West Coast.  I predict the African American youth putting down the guns, leaving the gangs behind and registering with this organization.  I dream of an organization with ample resources to accomplish whatever endeavors we deem necessary.  I see in my mind’s eye thousands of Black graduates leaving the campus of the University of California, Merced to make a difference in the world.  I see Black Greek life, marching bands, more Black artwork even a mural, and a Black house, all honoring the incredible African American culture and heritage, perhaps even a building named after some of the great African American faculty, students, staff, community members, and heroes.  All of this will come to past and it will be because of the work that we are doing today.  It will be because of the foundations that we are lying as the founding members of the African American Student Association.  It will be because of the chains that we broke when we came together for the first time.

This brings me to the incredible opportunity that I have had to directly influence the progression of this organization.  It has been one of my greatest sources of pleasure and inspiration.  I have learned so much about myself as an African American man and as a person and I feel like I have truly learned to appreciate my heritage, culture, and struggles as a result. This experience has taught me how to be an effective leader but most importantly how to follow with caution.  I have had the opportunity to form relationships with all of you whom I’m sure will do amazing things in the world and that has been a great honor.  I have had the privilege to serve and represent the Black community at UC Merced, setting a high standard for greatness.  This experience has reassured in me a desire to fight for equal opportunity, social justice, and civil rights for our people and for all people.  It has fueled in me a spirit of activism and empowerment and an idealism to make a difference the best way that I know how.  With that said I would like to announce my decision to run for ASUCM Student Body President for the 2007-2008 academic year.  It was a tough decision to make but I am confident that it is the best way for me to accomplish the goals that I want to achieve at UC Merced and am passionate that it is the best decision for me.  Josh Franco, our ASUCM Student Body President has been my personal mentor, and source of infinite wisdom and experience, as well as one of my most trusted friends and has inspired me to challenge myself beyond the limit and to never give up.  Working with him has helped me find the courage to lead and the willpower and know-how to influence.  A great man by the name of Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” With that said I would like to ask you to consider me for ASUCM President and support my campaign.  If you would like to know what I would like to accomplish with ASUCM and why I am the best person available to do so please visit http://www.rodney4asucm.blogspot.com. I strongly encourage you all to get to know all of the candidates and their aspirations for ASUCM as the decisions that ASUCM makes directly affect us all.  Please attend the debates and remember to vote because it is one of the most amazing privileges that we have.  I will be here after the meeting to answer any questions, comments, or concerns. Thank you all for an extraordinary opportunity to serve you and I look forward to serving you in an even larger capacity.  I wish you all the best in the future. Thank you and let’s continue with the program. 

Presidential Address to the General Assembly

Laying the Foundations


Welcome back everyone. I hope everyone is adjusting back to the school year after a long, relaxing summer vacation. I’m glad that you all could make it tonight in the midst of all of the activities that are going on right now. I know I have a couple of papers to write myself. I have a couple of things on mind I wanted to share with you all. Over the summer I was constantly thinking about what I, personally wanted to accomplish with A.A.S.A. this year. I’m originally from Portsmouth, VA and this summer I finally had the opportunity to go home. So I had a lot of free time on my hands traveling back and forth from the Bay Area with my Uncle, L.A. with my father, and then back home to Virginia to see my mom, friends, and family. All the while though, I knew that this year would be a tremendous year for me. I was elected President of the African American Student Association, I was appointed to ASUCM under Josh’s Advisory Counsel, I was one of the leading Campus Tour Guides and one of the first Orientation Leaders. Leadership was definitely a huge thing in my life and lot of positive things going on in. I knew that this year would bring even more. There would be more students, more professors, and more of an opportunity for me to positively influence others and excel in my second year at UCM.

Over the summer the theme of laying the foundations for generations came to mind. But in order for this organization to do that three requirements struck me, one of which was balance. Last year many of us learned how stressful college can be especially as a student at UC Merced. Our first year was an extremely difficult year; however, we learned that the sky is truly the limit and that with a positive mindset you can accomplish anything. In spite of this you all as student leaders must understand that you are students first and that you can only do so much. Your education is your number one goal at UC Merced and we are striving to all graduate from UCM together. However, you all have made a commitment whether you realize it or not. My hope is that you all would like to fulfill it. You have made a commitment to be a leader, to stand out, and to be different. So the second requirement was vision. I spoke on this during elections last year; a man without vision shall surely perish. Think about it. If you don’t know where you’re going then you don’t know where you are and you definitely can’t remember where you’ve been. It’s almost impossible to find some direction. But did you hear that word…almost. What is your vision for yourself? Lastly, it’s going to take flexibility. You’re going to have to devote at least 2 hours of your time each month to meetings or events with this organization. That means taking the initiative to say maybe I won’t go to this party. Maybe I’ll miss that episode of 106 and Park. (Laugh) I am NOT going to beg you to be here. I want you here because this is where you want to be. But if you don’t want to be here or if you’re maybe here for the wrong reasons, then I, honestly want you to re-evaluate those reasons and your life choices. We have an amazing opportunity with this organization and if you can’t see it then maybe you need to put your glasses back on. (Laugh!)

I decided on the theme of laying the foundations basically because that is exactly what we are doing as the first students at the University of California, Merced. We are paving the way for generations of future students who will receive their education here. We are in essence laying a concrete foundation for future students to build on with this organization. Now I’m not going to go on and on because I know you’ve all heard this time and time again. But I really want to stress the importance of this. I think that last year we, and when I say we I mean the founding members of this organization, occasionally lost sight of that goal, which was easy to do. I mean we were all freshman in college trying to start a new organization from the ground up. It wasn’t an easy thing to do. But now it’s so different. I don’t know if you all experience it, as often as we do, but now we’ve got it together. We know how things work, we know what to expect, but most importantly—we’re known. People look up to us now. People admire us and respect us for what we’ve done with this organization. We have even more of an obligation to continue to be the leaders that we stepped up to be. We have a duty to serve the students of the University of California, Merced to the best of our ability. So keep that in mind from time to time throughout the year. You are all laying the foundations for what future students will and can do in this organization at this University, what the general members can do, the executive officers and what each and every one of you can do in your own endeavors. You are all the leaders of today preparing the way for the leaders of tomorrow. So as we embark on our journey as the first elected leaders of the African American Student Association keep in mind the fact that we are serving this organization, and we are dedicating ourselves to the success of this organization, and we are devoting ourselves to its mission and goals and you the future leaders of this organization. I can’t be President forever. With that said, where do you see the future of this organization? What is your vision for this organization? What can A.A.S.A. be? What can you do to ensure that A.A.S.A. becomes that? What can A.A.S.A. do for this University, community, and world? Where do we you this organization in 5 years, 10 years, and 20 years? It has been said that A.A.S.A. will be a successful organization regardless of me or our Executive Board Officers, or any of you, but wouldn’t you rather it be with you than without you? I seriously want you to ponder that. I know I will.

Presidential Address to the General Assembly


Laying the Foundations pt. 2

Good evening my fellow peers. Tonight is a momentous milestone in the second year of this great university. Tonight is the last time that we will all come together as the African American Student Association in 2006. We have all come a long way this year. Hopefully this year has been a great experience for you all. Hopefully you have all proved to yourselves that you can overcome any obstacle that comes in your way. Hopefully you have all succeeded. Together as the African American Student Association we have had overwhelming success in our second year. We have had fundraisers and dues paid to raise funds for our organization. We have outlined a budget to allocate those funds so that we might be as effective as possible. We have documented the exciting history of our organization and all of the events that we have taken part in, in our A.A.S.A. Scrapbook and Video. We will soon order nice shirts to allow our fellow students to visualize the proactive organization and progression of the Black community at UC Merced. We have successfully held events to entertain not only the black students, but all students at our new university and to provide exposure to our members and our mission. Some of us have had a chance to interact with other black students at the other UC campuses and strategize on how we can be the most proactive black student organization throughout the entire UC system. Together we have followed the footsteps of our brothers and sisters and have volunteered in our community to show the members of this town that we are not only committed to our futures, but theirs too. We are planning the first in what will be an annual leadership experience for all students not only black students at UC Merced and in the community to come out and see our campus and meet our students and faculty, while learning more about the African American culture, history, and experience at a new university. Tonight we will close the semester like we opened it, together. Tonight we will celebrate our victory and continued success. Tonight marks what will become an annual culmination of our fall semester in AASA. This organization was started with the purpose in mind that it would exist to foster and promote the appreciation and awareness of the African American culture and history and enhance political awareness, social tolerance, and academic success and to provide support for students on campus and in the community. And that is exactly what we’ve been doing. We’ve started something with this organization that is bigger than any of us. But there is still much work to be done and we will be the ones that accomplish it. Organizations like the NAACP were started over 100 years ago and still exist today for the some of the same causes. Issues like discrimination, civil rights, equal opportunity; affirmative action, racism, and institutionalized racism are not going to go away. We all have to work to achieve that. We still need to organize and demand that our rights not be ignored. We still need to come to together as a collective body of intelligent individuals willing to get involved and learn the issues that adversely affect us and those like us in our community. We still have to be the voice for those who don’t have a voice. We still have to fight so that our people have a better tomorrow. We still have to become educated, get the best grades possible, help each other succeed, and be the best leaders in our community that we can be. We still have work to be done but let it be said tonight that in the first semester of our second year we have begun to the lay the foundations for years more of success and excellence. Next semester we will hold our first annual leadership summit, we will have campaigns and fundraisers for our organization and for our brothers and sisters in Africa that don’t have the privileges that even we do have here in America. We will continue to hold fun, engaging events to promote our culture and history, and we will do even more in the community to uphold our commitment to uplifting our brothers and sisters in this region. We will venture out in the community of other UC Campuses to learn more about our extremely rich culture, history, and legacy. We will attend the ABC Conference to meet, network, and socialize with our black leaders at our more experienced and established UC campuses in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, we will conduct a film series leading up to our summit to entertain and educate our student body about our culture and history and get them interested in attending our event and we will end the year with fellowship just as we started it. Tonight as the founding members of the African American Student Association we have a long road ahead of us but in the words of Martin Luther King Jr. “Every man (and woman) must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism (unselfishness) or the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is the judgment. Life’s most persistent urgent question is “What are you doing for others?” Let us never forget that were it not for great leaders like those of the Civil Rights Movement we might not be where we are today. Let us continue their struggle. Let us continue the Movement! Let us lay the foundations!

Message from the President


This year serving as the President of AASA has been one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences I’ve ever faced. I have been stretched in ways that I never knew that I could be. I have had buttons pushed that I did not know that I had and have been criticized for countless decisions in addition to being constantly under scrutiny. However, despite all of the negative aspects associated with being the President of AASA, the benefits of being the leader in this organization have been such a blessing to me and has greatly allowed for tremendous personal growth spiritually, academically, and socially. I feel like this experience has allowed for me to mature in a way that may not have happened for many years were it not for this organization. When I look back at all of the experiences that we have had this year together as the founding members of AASA, a tear comes to my eye. I am absolutely ecstatic about this organization and the potential of its members and officers and am so honored to serve as the President and Co-founder. I am positive that all of our members are going to be successful, professional, wealthy citizens and that when we look back at the impact that we have made in Merced and in the world that our children will truly be proud. It has been an honor to play such a large role in this organization and I look forward to this organization’s continued growth, exposure, unity, outreach, and success. Although; I opted to step down as active President of AASA for the remainder of the semester, know that I am truly dedicated to the success of this organization and each of its members. I decided to go on a temporary sabbatical primarily because of personal issues that were encompassing my life. Despite the hard times that I had, my heart never left this organization and I overcame them with the help of all of you. And that is exactly what this organization is all about. If elected as President of AASA for the 2006-2007 school year I plan on continuing the precedent that we have set for the African American students here at UCM in two distinct areas recruitment and expansion. It is our responsibility to pave the way for future generations of African American scholars at UCM and that is exactly what I intend to do.



1 Comment

  1. Hello Black Community. I am a Black student in France.
    I would like exchange with you indeed to know the black community in USA…
    Best regards

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