My name is Chase Finney (she/her/hers). I’m a native Floridian, but I moved around the eastern coast of the state and switched schools multiple times. This never really bothered me as a child because I always had my head in a book or a notebook with my imagination firing at all cylinders. I was a dreamer with very little direction, changing my future career plans every few months. I’m so grateful to my parents for being patient with me and allowing me to dream as big as I could, even if I had no idea what I was talking about.
I finally found my calling in 7th grade when I took a class called “World Cultures.” It was my first non-Western-centric social sciences course and I absolutely loved it. It took me a few more years to piece together my fascination with the subject, my study of Mandarin Chinese, and my interest in politics to find my prospective college major: Global Affairs. I think that my major incidentally eliminated a lot of HBCUs from my college search. The majority of opportunities for students interested in global affairs are on the East Coast, namely in NYC and Washington DC, whereas the majority of HBCUs are concentrated in the South and the interior US.
I’d attended PWIs since middle school, so I felt fairly prepared for my transition to the larger Yale community; I was more concerned with my introduction to Black Yale. Participating in Cultural Connections, a pre-orientation program geared towards POC students, significantly quelled my worries, but after the first few weeks of being in New Haven, I still didn’t know where I belonged in the Black community. I felt especially isolated from the Afro-American Cultural Center (aka “the House”), a space intended to be a refuge and source of support for all of Yale’s Black community. It wasn’t until I joined the board of the Black Solidarity Conference (BSC) that I finally began to feel at home at the House, which served as our meeting space and headquarters during the conference.
BSC is an annual conference that brings over 750 Black undergrads from around the country to participate in workshops, discussions, and career-focused activities to hone their leadership and financial skills, meet with recruiters from prestigious non-profit and for-profit companies, and discuss the most pressing issues facing members of the Diaspora. My favorite part of the conference is during those precious moments of downtime when board members can hang out and see all of our hard work pay off. Especially in the past year as I began taking more classes in my (semi-surprisingly) extremely white major, I’ve really appreciated the community and support I’ve found in the board as I continued to explore my Blackness and grow as a student and future professional.