BSA hosts beating the odds conference

The Laurier Black Students Association holds annual event for local Black high school students

On Feb. 9, Wilfrid Laurier University’s Black Student Association (BSA) held their annual Beating the Odds Conference (BTO), welcoming over 200 local Black high school students to the Laurier campus to motivate them as they move on to post-secondary education.

This marks the 19th year the BTO conference has been held. The event’s theme was ‘educate, empower and excel’ – with talks given by key speakers with backgrounds in anti-racism and mental health.

Photo by: Meron Mehari

The conference focuses on promoting the ways new students can excel once they accept their offer letters, said Meron Mehari, 3rd-year BBA student and BTO Conference Director at the BSA.

“The students were super engaged and most of them were first-time attendees,” said Mehari. “It was important for us to have engaging conversations. The speakers were our focal point to motivate students and educate them on opportunities as well as empower them to excel in their academic life,” she added.

Mehari led a dance workshop during the conference, highlighting various dance cultures around the globe.

“I taught them a dance from East Africa where I’m from, alongside a [South Sudanese] dance move and Caribbean move. We put together a whole dance combo – the students got to see a little bit of each culture, which was amazing,” said Mehari.

Mehari highlighted the value of cultural events and initiatives like the BTO conference when it comes to fostering a community.

“It’s important, especially for students that come from predominantly white high schools or regions, to hear voices or stories that are similar to their experiences,” she said.

“Being surrounded by like-minded individuals, they see themselves in them or they consider a future that they may have not otherwise considered.”

By having a support system from university administration, alumni, and the KW community for the BSA and initiatives like their conference “we can make sure that our efforts can reach and inspire more students,” said Mehari.

In the future, the BSA hopes to expand the conference and host it more frequently than once a year.

While February is a good month to hold the conference due to Black History Month, it can be inconvenient with post-secondary application deadlines approaching, said Mehari.

For more information about Laurier’s Black Students Association and the Beating the Odds Conference, please visit the Laurier Website.

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