I’m Keyana D. Robinson, a multi-disciplinary artist and activist from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
I am an incoming junior at the University of Illinois at Chicago majoring in business marketing. I spend my free time painting, cooking, reading Black women writers, and making short films dedicated to life’s experiences. The past two years of living in Chicago and learning collegiate and life lessons has been a wonderful experience for me thus far.
Since I’m basically a transplant to Chicago, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first came to the city. Though I’ve frequently visited in previous years, I had primarily stayed in the west loop or visited family and left it at that. While living and attending school in the city, my world really opened up to a diverse culture of Black and Brown people on and off campus.
Before starting my freshman year, I attended a retreat for incoming Black students through UIC’s African American Academic Network. This essentially solidified my entry into Black life on campus and gave me a home base to come to and find comfort. I still keep in contact with most from the retreat.
Though I found comfort in those early months of freshman year, I soon realized how little comfort I would receive outside of my immediate circle.
With the small 8% at UIC, we, Black people are underrepresented, often overlooked, and marginalized on our own campus. This led me to seek out the Black Student Union to find the comfort that I had become accustomed to coming from a predominantly Black high school, middle, and elementary school.
When I initially joined as a member, I found my voice amongst my Black peers, but also as a young woman trying to find ground in loose soil, eventually leading and calling me to want to serve others as I was so graciously served my freshman year through BSU, Sisters, and AAAN.
Now, as an incoming junior, I have found a voice and confidence that I didn’t fully know I possessed; so much so that I currently serve on the Black Student Union, African Film Society, and Applied Health Sciences board and recently joined a Student Life Task Force dedicated to improving the experience of Black students on campus. The end of freshman year was an epiphany for me to follow what I am led to, nurture those gifts, and lead with faith.
Though I appreciate the titles that I have among these organizations, I am grateful that I can meet and work with wonderful and talented activists and artists from around the country and world fighting to be the change and see the change. I hope that the collective work that I and so many other students are doing will carry on into the future.
I’m looking forward to continuing my journey this fall semester…