Over the past month, student ambassadors for the Program for Advancement of Learning (PAL) have worked together to create a Black History Month exhibition highlighting persons of color who have overcome adversity regardless of disability.
Jackson Greeno ’23, Anthony Aiken ‘25, and Vanessa Kehayias ’23 spearheaded the student-led project, creating designs and artifacts that range from presentations to social media posts. Through their own research, students discovered and highlighted historic persons of color with brain differences that inspire and succeed, such as Muhammad Ali (Dyslexia), Michael Jordan (ADHD), Maya Angelou (Selective Mutism), and more.
"Black History Month is so important because it celebrates African Americans who have strived to make differences in the world whether it’s socially, racially, in the classroom, or on the sports field,” said Greeno. “It celebrates breaking barriers in our society and shows that change is possible and for the better. Not only did the people in our exhibit accomplish change, but they also struggled with learning differences like me and so many others.”
In addition to a slideshow presentation, which is displayed in the foyer of the PAL building, students designed posters for two bulletin boards, created content for Instagram posts and stories, and requested the purchase of books, pictures, and framed quotes from the highlighted celebrities.
Aiken, the lead graphic designer, wanted to create materials that were dynamic and unique in celebration of the subjects. “Not only did I do this to challenge myself, but I also wanted to give each person their own sense of identity and personality. My overall objective was to get the viewer interested in the actual person behind the poster, because I believe that it’s important for their legacy and history to be seen, honored, and recognized."
"We're very proud of the way our students took hold and owned the project. They were eager to show that we in PAL recognize how important Black History Month is to our community,” said PAL Co-Director and Professor Dr. Janis Peters. “Our students are becoming aware of the fact that they are part of a larger community that includes people of all ethnicities and abilities.”