Alumni Focus on Developing Partnerships to Help Students

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By Jovani Yolanda Fox, ASU Class of 2008

As 2021 has come to a close and many begin to reflect on past accomplishments, two Alabama State University alumni can look proudly to their achievements while planning for a future of service.

Yasmin Salina, Executive Director of The Hustlers Guild (HG) and 2009 ASU graduate, teamed up with Dr. Travis Smith, class of 2012 and Founder & Executive Director of UNITE, Inc., to raise $95,000 for HBCU students during their Fall 2021 HBCU Homecoming Tour.

With their efforts, $35,000 was pledged specifically to support Alabama State University.

Using the power of the homecoming experience, Salina and Smith took their Homecoming Tour to three HBCUs: Alabama State University, Jackson State University and Tennessee State University to connect thousands of students with top brands and allow them access to post-collegiate job opportunities.

The duo snagged MELĒ Skincare and award-winning rapper Snoop Dogg’s spirit brand Indoggo to join them on the tour.

“HBCUs have been the center of many talks for corporations following the murder of George Floyd, but many of these businesses have yet to act on promises,” explains Salina. “I'm happy these brands we’ve gathered have committed to supporting Black students when they need it the most.” 

When asked to reflect on the tour's success, Smith states, “Working alongside Yasmin and HG has opened my eyes to the power of corporate partnerships. [Corporate] partnerships allow us to provide students with scholarships, internships, co-ops, and jobs. This should be a primary focus of all alums who have access to these spaces.”

The Hustlers Guild and UNITE, Inc. partnered with a number of local organizations to raise donations to cultivate networking and occupational opportunities for young people attending these historical institutions. “Bama State alums must reimagine giving beyond the dollar (and ask) how can we leverage our corporate relationships to leave a lasting impact on our university,” Smith added. 

“This tour for me was personal,” says Salina. “As a graduate of Alabama State University, I told myself as a student (that) one day I am going to come back and create what I didn’t have. I hope that other alumni who have access to rooms and opportunities are able to bring ASU into the fold.”

With the advent of 2022, Salina and Smith both ask fellow ASU alums to rethink what it means to give back.

“A lot of times we don’t see the resources we have within our reach. I challenge my former classmates to think about how they can become a better servant to Bama State. This is a part of our legacy and our responsibility as HBCU alumni,” says Salina.