Black History Month 2021
In celebration of Black History Month, we're highlighting students and alumni for their work at Acadia. Stay tuned for more profiles each week!
YES! This Dena Williams. She is all spirit, love, and vibes!
Alumna Dena Williams graduated from Acadia University in May 2018 with a degree in Music and Theology. Dena was an active part of the Acadia community creating and facilitating events and spaces where students can express themselves and perform their talents. She is passionate about Black people and culture. She served as the ASU Equity Officer for the 2017 -2018 school year, and she is also the Founding President of the new Black Students’ Association at Acadia. Dena is all things joy! She was also an advocate for change. As a student leader, she saw the needs of students, and she actively sought ways to meet those needs. At Acadia and even today, Dena spreads her love through laughter, encouragement, mentorship, and advocacy. She stated, “I like to be a light in each space I enter and so sometimes that takes shape in different ways.” Dena’s ultimate goal in all of her contributions was to make Acadia a better place for all students. Through her hard work and dedication, the Black Student’s Association at Acadia is currently thriving in its efforts to create a more inclusive university. Currently, Dena has started her own business called Vitamin Dee Entertainment where the aim is to spread love and light to neglected communities through creative arts. Dena! YOU DID THAT! Thank you so much for your hard work and dedication to making Acadia a better place.
This is Kiara Sexton. Kiara is a powerhouse, a fighter, an activist, and an advocate for mental health, resources, and the rights of all students. Kiara is currently in her 4th year of university studying B.A. Sociology with a Minor in History. She is an active member in the Sociology department and other clubs such as the Black Students’ Association and the Acadia Mental Health Initiative. Kiara states that her favorite part of activism “is challenging the administration. Fighting for change only goes so far when its only students hearing you out. Having the meetings with those in power where they have no choice but to look you in the eye means that they can put a face to the issues that desperately need to be addressed.” At any moment, Kiara is ready and willing to engage in conversations and initiatives on how the university can create better services and facilitate a welcoming environment for all students to thrive. Ms. Sexton is not afraid to have hard conversations. In fact, she fully engages with it because the only way to promote real change is when hard conversations take place. Currently, Kiara is engaged in key committees that address issues of race and diversity to transform Acadia. Kiara, thank you for always challenging the system and working hard to create a safe and supportive space at Acadia University.
Meet Jessica, a former Acadia student who is using research as a powerful mechanism for activism and change.
Jessica Bundy is an Acadia Alumna that holds a B. A. (‘15) Sociology with a minor in History and M.A. (‘17) Sociology. Throughout her time at Acadia, Ms. Bundy completed both an undergraduate and graduate degree focusing on African Nova Scotian studies where she had the great opportunity to work with Dr. Claudine Bonner who was her supervisor. Through the researching process, Jessica not only enjoyed the work that she was contributing, but it also led her on a path of activism. She became more involved in the Acadia community contributing her knowledge and insight. She attended and participated in talks, presentations, and events that were centered around discussions on ethnic race relations and discrimination. At Acadia, she moderated many talks including, "Opening the Academy: New Strategies for Exploring and Sharing African Nova Scotia History", "Commit Sociology: Police Violence, Racial Violence, Justice and Protest" and "The Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.". Jessica Bundy was a part of the first conversations of forming the new Black Students’ Association at Acadia. Currently, Jessica is a Ph.D. candidate at the Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies at the University of Toronto with a dissertation that explores African Nova Scotian perceptions and experiences with police and racism in the Halifax region. Ms. Bundy, Thank you for your impact on Acadia University!
Yes! This is Fikáyọ̀ Kayode.
Fikáyọ̀ is currently in her 3rd year at Acadia studying Political Science with a minor in Philosophy. She is currently the President of the Black Students’ Association where she advocates for resources and opportunities for Black students at Acadia. Fikáyọ̀’s goal is to leave Acadia better than she met it. She is dedicated to creating an Acadia that is inclusive where Black students have the freedom to express themselves and be heard undefined by politics. She does this by hosting events and creating safe spaces where students feel comfortable to share their thoughts regardless of their color or creed.
Fikáyọ̀ is a poet, a philosopher, an artist, a mentor, and she is always willing to engage in important conversations to spark change. She actively uses social media to daily empower people and to provide information on current issues of social justice. Ms. Kayode said that her experience at Acadia has fed her hunger for knowledge of the world, specifically how things operate in this political realm that we all live in. When asked what her advice is for students Fikáyọ̀ stated, “you don't have to know where you're going but know what you're doing. I say this because a lot of pressure exists in university and from society to get yourself figured out. As 2020 showed us, life doesn't always work out as planned, but don't let that stop you from staying focused on what you are doing and what you want in the present.”
Fikáyọ̀, your love for Black people is truly unmatched. Continue to walk the path of greatness. We truly appreciate your work! Thank you!
Lily Nottage is an entrepreneurial leader who has used her beacon of light to encourage and uplift others academically, professionally, and socially at Acadia University. Alumna Lily Nottage graduated with a degree in Business Administration specializing in marketing. While at Acadia, Lily ventured on many pursuits to create an atmosphere of love and community. She used her creative abilities to change Acadia by capturing the beautiful moments. She has worked with the athletics department, the ASU, many other clubs and departments on campus, and the Town of Wolfville to capture and highlight the unique things about each using media.
Lily is a leader who believes that you can create your own table within a space and thrive. She was the creative director of the Black Students’ Association and the Acadia International Society. For two consecutive years she was the recipient of the DHX Media award at Acadia University. She used her love for media to spread joy and raise awareness about issue of diversity and inclusion. One of her famous projects are the “Beyond the Melanin” film that highlighted the unique stories of black students at Acadia. Ms. Nottage has a strong love for people and community. Her favorite part of Acadia is the beautiful close-knit community that exists with Wolfville.
Currently, Lily is the owner of Bloom Media where she continues to use her creative abilities to help small and medium businesses thrive. She has just completed her first film that will premiere on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at the Halifax Black Film Festival. GO LILY, GO! Thank you for capturing Acadia!
Introducing Sawyer Carnegie, a passionate social justice activist!
Sawyer Carnegie was heavily involved at Acadia academically and as a student leader. She graduated from Acadia University in 2017 with a B.A English Literature/Gender Studies. At Acadia, she fulfilled many roles such as House Council - VP Programming and Welcome Week Leader in Barrax House. Ms. Carnegie was passionate about enhancing the student life experience and ensuring all students enjoyed their experience at Acadia. She was also very passionate about her education. As a result, Sawyer served as a research assistant for several professors in the English, Sociology, and Computer Science Department. Due to her stellar work, in 2017, she was chosen to present at The Annual Atlantic Undergraduate English Conference in UPEI. Sawyer Carnegie was one of the key individuals involved in the creation of the new Black Students' Association at Acadia, and she also assisted with Black History Month events at Acadia. Currently, Ms. Carnegie is working on a Master of Arts in the Atlantic Canada Studies with a thesis that is focused on African Nova Scotian newspapers and their role in Black activism. Sawyer, thank you so much for your contribution to Acadia University. We cannot wait to see you accomplish your goals!
Shelby McPhee is absolutely an Acadia star who has left an impression not only on Acadia University, but on the staff and administration for years to come. Shelby graduated with a B.A. (‘18) and M.A. Political Science (‘20) at Acadia University. He has worked with many professors including Dr. Rachel Brickner his former supervisor. During his time at Acadia, Shelby has been the emblem of Black Excellence. Not only was he known as one of Wolfville’s favorite Subway sandwich artists, but he also consistently fought for resources and proper representation for Black students at Acadia. Being a founding member of the new Black Students’ Association, he engaged in key conversations with the administration and students to fulfill the need. Shelby is a philosopher, and he is always willing to engage in meaningful, important, and critical conversations. When asked what his favorite part of activism at Acadia was, Shelby stated that having the opportunity to meet and work with POC and allies resonated with him. Currently, Shelby is a High School Teacher and an Adjunct Professor at the University of the Bahamas lecturing in Politics and Sociology. Shelby, your work has not been forgotten. Thank you for your activism!
This is Janique Ellis. Janique is currently in the final semester of her BSc. Psychology and Sociology at Acadia. During her time at Acadia, Janique has worked arduously to transform the spaces around her to make it more diverse and inclusive for all students of color. Janique has advocated for resources and programs targeted toward developing the student life experience for Black students and International students. She has served as a student advocate, mentor, and confidant for many students at Acadia. Mrs. Ellis stated that she spreads her love at Acadia by being present for students and giving her best efforts toward transforming the community around her by making room at the table for students of color to freely express themselves and be heard. She is also the co-founder of the Acadia International Society which was created to facilitate a bonding experience for international students and domestic students. Currently, Janique is writing her Honors thesis on the Food Insecurity Experienced by International Students. She also serves as the Student Success Programmer at Acadia, and in this role, she creates programs and engages in important conversations to transform the student life experience for all students at Acadia University. Mrs. Ellis, Well done!
Sehkahnee is the epitome of being the change you want to see. Acadia Alumnus Sehkahnee Reynolds has constantly made strides to change the Wolfville community to make it more inclusive and safer for everyone. At Acadia, Reynolds studied Sociology, and he was among the few Black men that participated on the Varsity Football team, and track. He along with a few colleagues began the first conversations to establish a Black Students’ Association at Acadia University. Mr. Reynolds believes heavily in community engagement. Due to this, during his time at Acadia, he facilitated and hosted many cookouts, BBQs, and cultural engagements to spotlight the diversity and Afro Caribbean culture that is present.
Currently, Mr. Reynolds is still an active part of the Acadia and Wolfville community. He serves on boards to construct policies that will create better university experiences and provide adequate resources for all Black students. He also owns and operates Ascension Barbershop located at 2 Central Ave, Wolfville. Sehkahnee continues to work in the community by mentoring young Black boys and creating opportunities for other Black people to meet and access local resources. Mr. Reynolds, your work has not gone unnoticed! We thank you!
B.A. Political Science ('21)
Introducing to you Soyini Edwards! Soyini is currently in the final semester of her Political Science degree. At Acadia and in the Wolfville community, Ms. Edwards has contributed a plethora of marvelous works that have changed the Wolfville community for years to come. During summer 2020 at the apex of the Black Lives Matter movement, Edwards and a few colleagues organized and hosted a BLM march and speaking engagement in the town of Wolfville to educate the community and show solidarity with individuals of the Black community that face racism and injustices daily. Soyini was also the second president of the new Black Students Association at Acadia. In this role, she continuously broke down barriers that prevented Black students from living in their authenticity.
Currently and for the second consecutive year, Ms. Edwards serves Acadia as the Diversity and Inclusion Officer on the ASU. In this role, she serves all students by creating insightful programs to aid in student growth and supports students by correctly navigating matters of social injustices. Soyini, WE SEE YOU! Thank you for your work!