This Month:

March 2019: Rachel Blakes

Mar 1, 2019 | Spotlights | 3 comments

SPOTLIGHT

 

Name – Rachel Blakes                      

School – DePaul University

Year – Senior C/o 2019

Major – Acting

Minor – African and Black Diaspora Studies

Orgs – Black Student Union

Bio: Peace, I’m Rachel I’m originally from New Orleans, Louisiana and grew up between there and Houston, Texas I’m now an Uptown Chicago resident. I’m a fourth-year actress graduating from The Theatre School at DePaul University with a minor in African and Black Diaspora Studies. I joined my campus’ Black Student Union in 2015 and remained an active member before being elected to the organization’s executive board as Co-director of Public Relations. I also represent the Notorious Nu Rho Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated as their reigning Miss Black and Gold. Outside of being a student, I’m a creative with a deep passion for telling honest and impactful stories, as well as uplifting and improving my community. Coming from a southern family with a long history in non for profit/church work I was raised with the understanding that service is a priority and it is our responsibility to love others. I have made simply loving others a part of my life mission and center all of my work around this goal. Off campus, I began work as a mentor in 2017 with Kuumba Lynx a Non-For-Profit arts activism program for youth in the city of Chicago. We educate youth and people all over the city, country and world on their power and offer them space to discover, grow and get free. Through this work I have been able to connect with other artists/activists who have similar missions including several of the artists that comprise One Luv. One Luv is an amazing collective of women artists that I’m so proud to be a part of. We started by producing fashion shows. We had two iconic shows Track 1 & 2 in 2018. Since then, the group has branched out and become more intentional with our work in the community by facilitating workshops, hosting/ bringing awareness to important conversations such as mental health, bullying, suicide awareness etc. I also am the Vice President of The Girls of Destiné Mentor program. We mentor girls 10-17 exposing them to service opportunities, and aiding them through professional, spiritual, and personal development.

 

How would you describe the blk community on your campus? – I believe our community is moving forward. In my past 4 years of involvement in BSU 2 on e-board, I have seen changes. Some people would say they’re good some may not think so. As a leader in my community I choose to see and celebrate the good and I am noticing a rise in support of our black businesses, and artists on campus as well as the founding of a lot of new black orgs and I love it.

What do they need? What do they want? – I think we need to connect more deeply and I think ultimately that’s what most of us want even if it’s subconscious or expressed in different ways. We need to be more of a priority for our university. There are several places where we fall through the cracks and are not considered.

How has your school responded to these needs and wants? – I have witnessed our current e-board/community and classes before us fight continuously for years for issues pertaining to black students and I can say that there has been slow change in certain areas.

What have you done to improve the student life of black students on your campus? – Since being on the board, I have made centering and celebrating black art a priority as a step toward changing the narrative about blackness in Chicago and on DePaul’s campus. I have begun working toward this goal by curating events such as our monthly open mic “Soul’Fo Mondays”, our first ever Cypher/DJ Battle, and our annual BSU Fashion Show. I also have been active in my college, The Theatre School, in having conversations about blackness in theatre as well as in conservatory training.

Why did you choose to attend a PWI over a HBCU? – I chose The Theatre School because it is top ranked in the country.

What is your PWI Survival Guide Tip? – Don’t fold. Do not let people make you feel uncomfortable, period. You have every right to be there. Take up space.

3 Comments

  1. Robert Blakes

    The writer of this article is a genius. This is my unbiased opinion as her father. 😊

    On a serious note, as a middle aged black man it makes me proud that there are young African American professionals who are conscious and connected to their community. There is hope.

    Reply
  2. Lisa

    Well penned! This spotlights the need for present and future students to be intentional about their place and voice on the DePaul Campus. The implementation of the Arts by Rachel, gives the students the confidence they need to project their talents without compromise. I hope the advice given by this student will be taken to heart as she stated “Don’t fold. Do not let people make you feel uncomfortable, period. You have every right to be there. Take up space.”.

    Reply
  3. Shawn Johnson

    Congratulations young lady keep up the good work

    Reply

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