When Afrita Davis first came to Pittsburg State, she admits she initially felt a bit isolated. The Coffeyville, Kan., native had just served a year in Iraq with the Army Reserves, and intended on transferring her community college credits to a large university.
But something told this 24-year-old to consider PSU. And as soon as she made a friend in the Black Student Association, her social life took a turn for the better. Now, she is leading the organization, taking the opportunity to enhance her leadership skills and strengthen the bonds of minority students across campus.
"My very first mission was to get more people involved," said Davis, who transformed BSA from having just a handful of members to a strong 40-plus. "It can be a shocker to come here as a person from an urban area. We recruited heavily, and now we have a group of young, passionate students who are committed to staying in school, making PSU better, and making it more attractive to minority students in the future."
In addition to solidifying the association, Davis has encouraged their involvement. BSA helped with some of the university's diversity events held earlier this spring, and attended the Big 12 Conference on Black Student Government at the University of Texas at Austin in February, where they networked with other schools, got ideas for campus involvement, and attended leadership workshops. This spring at PSU they will host a basketball tournament and the Black and White Ball.
"She's a role model to me," said Deron Wright, a freshman track athlete from the Kansas City area. "She's done so much for the group and has created organized goals. The legacy of BSA should start with her because she's a great example."
As for Davis, who will head to a post-baccalaureate/pre-med program in the fall, bringing students together to be a positive presence on campus has put PSU in a different light.
"There's a community of African Americans on campus, but that's just the foundation. The group is about diversity and I hope we can recruit students of all colors to be part of BSA," she said. "It's important to interact with people of other cultures and get involved. We need to celebrate the differences within ourselves."