By Luce Cada '23
To recognize the beginning of Black History Month, Notre Dame hosted a Women of Impact Speaker Series centered around a discussion of Culturally Relevant Education. The event featured three notable black women: Dr. Felicia Mensah, Professor Gloria Ladson-Billings, and Ms. Wanda Holland Greene. Hosted by Rachel Aguilar ‘21, Notre Dame's Black Student Union (BSU) founder and president, the three women shared their thoughts on educating people about culture and racism in today’s society.
It is important to talk about these issues and, as the inspirational women mentioned, it shouldn’t be only in February that we focus on racism, equity and inclusion. These topics should be talked about every day, every week and every year. On the topic of culturally-relevant instructional education, both Dr. Mensah and Professor Ladson-Billings talked about three key components: one, to be aware and conscious of our surroundings and environment; two, to always seek out knowledge, ask questions, and learn; and three, to be open and take risks. “Stop being afraid of being wrong,” said Professor Ladson-Billings. Being wrong is part of growing in an area where we don’t have experience. ND students are taught what they need to know for life and understand the importance of being life-long learners. Much of what these women addressed involved continuing to learn about other cultures in order to fully understand one another. They also answered questions from the audience, engaging the viewers and encouraging them to continue to learn more about Black culture and how to battle racism.
After the women signed off, Rachel Aguilar’s mother, Elizabeth Wells Aguilar, shared a few words about ND’s new scholarship fund called the Village Scholarship. With the understanding that “it takes a village to raise a child,” this fund will help an incoming Black student afford a Notre Dame education. Currently, Black students make up only 3% of ND’s school population, and the school is working to change that and continue to grow as the most diverse Catholic private high school in Santa Clara Valley. As the world continues to grow and adapt to broaden its horizons, Notre Dame will also always strive to 'do better.'
To learn more about the Village Scholarship, please click here.