Ayodele Uhuru, a first-year undergraduate student from Detroit, is among the first cohort of students at Michigan State University to major in African American and African Studies (AAAS). The B.A. in AAAS just launched this year through MSU’s Department of African American and African Studies in the College of Arts & Letters.
“Choosing to major in AAAS was a no-brainer for me,” Uhuru said. “I’m passionate about my people and need my education to be as Black-centered as possible. My life will be dedicated to serving and liberating Black people and so my education must be through a Black lens.”
Uhuru’s mother is a Michigan State University graduate and Uhuru chose to enroll at MSU because she wanted to take advantage of the in-state tuition. She also was drawn to the AAAS major.
“As a Black student with a learning disability, I know the support I need is rarely a priority or even on the radar of these large institutions. I wanted to ensure most of my professors and classmates not only looked like me but were also looking at me,” Uhuru said. “It was important to me that my identity shaped my learning experience instead of being an afterthought.”
“I’m a part of a beautiful legacy and I know there is so much greatness that will come out of AAAS. It has given me new motivation and purpose to be at MSU.”
Uhuru is excited to be one of the first students to major in AAAS at MSU.
“I’m a part of a beautiful legacy and I know there is so much greatness that will come out of AAAS. It has given me new motivation and purpose to be at MSU,” she said. “I know that everything I do in my time here will be to build and grow this program for other Black students. That brings me so much joy.”
Uhuru plans to use her major to uplift her peers and other Black students considering college by inviting friends to AAAS events and encouraging others to take AAAS electives.
“My AAAS classes are so affirming and fulfilling in ways I only thought I could dream of,” she said.
Uhuru is most excited to learn about the parallels between Black people across the diaspora and the similarities and differences in traditions, languages, customs, religions, and struggles of Black people around the world.
“My AAAS classes are so affirming and fulfilling in ways I only thought I could dream of.”
“My perspective and study of Blackness and Black people has been greatly African American centered,” she said. “I am excited to learn more about other Africans so that I can better understand how we all need to be supported.”
Uhuru said she appreciates the community within the AAAS major and feels inspired and welcomed by her advisors, Yvonne Morris and Chamara Kwakye, who are both Academic Specialists in the AAAS Department.
“They make AAAS such a great space and prioritize our overall health and well-being,” Uhuru said. “Every time we meet, we do a group breathing exercise and talk about the importance of our breath and life. I appreciate that in AAAS we are provided with tools and community to take care of ourselves and each other and caring for each other is practiced at all times.”
Beyond college, Uhuru hopes to continue working to uplift and liberate Black people around the world. But for now, she is excited to be a trailblazer in this new major and hopes to create a path to help future generations of AAAS thrive.
“It’s so exciting creating a path within my major. I feel challenged to be as outside of the box as possible,” she said. “I know that each generation will build from the next, so I want to provide the best foundation. This is all motivation for me.”