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PBSU revives the Heritage Ball

Anjanae Crump, Editor-in-Chief

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On Thursday Nov. 16 in the UNO Alumni Ballroom, the Progressive Black Student Union (PBSU) hosted its most prominent event of the year, the 18th Annual Heritage Ball. The ball recognized and honored minority staff members who were nominated collectively by members of PBSU for their work here at UNO.

Honorees included Dr. Kim Williams in the College of Business Administration, Dr. Earle Bryant in the College of Liberal Arts, Enjilee Dunn in the college of Business Administration, Byron Landry in the College of Engineering, Tresa Banks in Student Support Services and Dr. Gerard Williams, a former PBSU and academic advisor.

As the live jazz band quieted and people returned to their seats after enjoying conversation and refreshments, PBSU president Crystal Suggs greeted the guests. “I just really want to thank everybody for coming out tonight. This is a really monumental event for the organization since it is the first one that we’ve had in five years.”

The Ball had been halted during the three years PBSU was inactive and was held off for another two years in order to stabilize and re-establish PBSU’s campus presence and resources before hosting such a prominent event.

As a previous advisor, Williams said he was happy to see what PBSU has grown into and offered words of inspiration as the selected guest speaker.

Williams told the crowd that he came “from a man who was a custodian and a woman who worked in a department store,” and went on to earn his PhD., along with his other siblings, who have all earned various college degrees.

He said, “There’s greatness in here and you should aspire to make sure that you accomplish that, so make sure when you talk to yourself, that you are building yourself up.” He continued, “Whatever it is you choose to pursue, do it with greatness.”

Following Williams’ introduction, all five honorees were individually introduced by different members of PBSU and called up to the podium to receive plaques and share short acceptance speeches.

Bryant said, “I really do mean that I’m honored. This is not an award that I take lightly … most of my best students are [and have always been] PBSU members. They are some of the smartest, ambitious and socially conscious … so this award, coming from them, means a great deal to me.” He promised to hang it in his office immediately.

 

Landry was described by Suggs as always having the best attitude and being joyful, knowledgeable and helpful.

“I try to give my students my best all the time,” Landry explained. “I understand investment and the number of people that have invested into my life, so I want to be a great investor also. Not just with stocks, but also putting into people’s lives. I’m so appreciative, you just don’t know.”

Also deeply invested with students, Dunn shared how she manages to keep going when the times aren’t as easy. “I know there’s a bigger picture and that the goal is to help people accomplish things [that] not everyone has the privilege of accomplishing, so at the end, even if I may be tired, I still come in, and [do] all I need to do to help the students.”

The honorees also thanked others for helping them, such as their mentors, colleagues, friends and families.

Banks said, “Especially those of us in education, we know that we cannot do what we do without the support of our family.” She thanked her husband and three sons for sharing her with her career, which often accounts for most of her time. She shared her family’s mantra, which is “success through G.R.O.W.T.H,” and encouraged students to remember it. She explained that the acronym stands for the first letters of “God’s grace,” “resilience”, “opportunity,” “work,” “tenacity” and “help.”

After all of the honorees were finished speaking, the celebration went on with a four-course meal, music and dancing. Also in attendance was President John Nicklow and his wife Stacy Nicklow.

Suggs said, “With the help of the organization and continuous support and encouragement from others, we brought [the Heritage Ball] back this year and it was nothing short of outstanding!”

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PBSU revives the Heritage Ball