Bama State Society Makes Connections and Impact
By Lois G. Russell/ASU
A group of ASU alumni have turned their passion for O’ Mother Dear into a “movement” that has a goal of helping to “connect all who love ‘Bama State.”
The Bama State Society emerged on social media only a few weeks ago and created quite a “buzz” of excitement, particularly among the younger generation of Hornets. The inspiration for forming the Society came after a series of focused discussions about the University.
“Earlier this year, a group of us hosted biweekly conversations on Clubhouse to connect alumni and students to each other and with University administrators,” said one of The Society’s 10 founding members, Maya A. McKenzie, Esq. “During those calls, we discussed what a “Better Bama State” could look like and how we could utilize our talents to accomplish that. After months of conversations, we decided to put action behind our ideas and start the Bama State Society.”
McKenzie is a 2013 graduate of ASU and currently practices law in Washington, D.C. Other founding members include Orlando Arnold (2005, sports agent, Miami, Fla.), Ashley Caver (2008, parent educator, Montgomery, Ala.), Elle Houston (2012, event producer, Los Angeles, Calif.), Charlie Hudson, III (2004, actor, New York, N.Y.), Dominique Lee (2011, brand manager, New York, N.Y.), Vanda Lee (2010, producer, Los Angeles, Calif.), Charley McLeod (2009, director and producer, Los Angeles, Calif.), Yasmin Salina (2009, nonprofit co-founder, Washington, D.C.), and Dr. Travis C. Smith (2012, university professor, Gainesville, Fla.).
The Society’s mission can be captured in two words: amplify and unite.
“We are connecting all who love ‘Bama State — from students to parents, faculty to administrators, and alumni to those whose only connection is simply a deep love for ASU. By bringing together each group of University stakeholders, we can keep the ‘Bama State Spirit strong for generations to come,” McLeod said.
Dominique Lee said the Bama State Society will utilize social media as a primary tool of communications. He said online platforms are “a powerful tool” that allows The Society to activate that Ole ‘Bama State Spirit in real time.
“Currently, there’s no better way to showcase our fully engaged network to future Hornets, those looking to become a part of our community and those who are already in. Our online presence also enables us to highlight many of our ‘rock star’ alumni who are making amazing contributions to society,” explained Hudson.
Within weeks of announcing The Society, members launched their first fundraising initiative to benefit their alma mater. The effort was a resounding success, raising more than $30,000 within two days.
“It was no surprise that the Hornet family showed up in a major way to pour into the future generation of our Hornet Nation because our alumni support is rooted in a deep love for O’ Mother Dear. Our initiatives and engagement have been well received and embraced by not only alumni but also current students. Above all, we want our current and prospective students to know there’s a village here that will readily and willingly mobilize for them,” said Vanda Lee.
Students will be able to make applications for support through the Student Support Fund. The Society expects to begin making awards by the end of the year.
Houston said the work of the society has just begun. Their goals are robust and ambitious. She said their first effort was designed to “uplift” current ASU students—those who form the next generation of ASU alumni. The Society wants to provide assistance beyond the normal scholarships to cover tuition, housing and books.
“So often…there is no support for the ‘extra’ things required to excel. Students need experiences outside of the classroom in order to grow, learn, and be competitive in today’s market,” Smith said. Arnold added that “The Bama State Society’s Student Support Fund provides financial support for key areas not covered by tuition and fees — study abroad opportunities; travel/housing for internships and fellowships; conference registration and travel; and graduate and professional school test prep, fees, and application fees.”
Caver said the Society helps students know what it means to be part of the Hornet Family.
“Once students come to ‘Bama State, it’s important for them to know they have the support they need to become the best and brightest in their field. The Society’s Student Support Fund shows parents, prospective students, current students, and the world that ‘Bama State prepares its students for success,” said Caver.
Salina said for the members of the Society, their efforts are based on their love for and commitment to their beloved ‘Bama State.
“We are Hornets. Alabama State University has so much history, but we are not finished writing our story in history books. So many brilliant trailblazers graced the same soil students walk every day. It’s that legacy that motivates us to march onward and upward.”
To make a donation to the Bama State Society Student Support Fund, visit www.alasu.edu/bamastatesociety. Follow @bamastatesociety on Instagram and Facebook.