Black students awarded for excellence at BFSA
Approximately 602 University of Louisiana at Lafayette students were honored in the 27th annual Black Student Achievement Awards Program on April 6 at 6 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom.
More than 150 students, family and faculty filled the Student Union ballroom and were greeted by Vice President of Student Affairs and BFSA president, Patricia Cottonham.
After a musical selection from senior education major Hallie Boudreaux, the evening’s guest speaker, Tyler Olivier, Ph.D., biology professor at San Jacinto Community College and UL Lafayette alumnus, offered words of encouragement to the students. Olivier also spoke about imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist even in the face of information that indicates the opposite is true, according to information published by counseling.caltech.edu.
“Ditch the imposter syndrome,” he said. “You don’t see many people that look like me in my field. Because of those surroundings, I suffer (from imposter syndrome). It leads us to devalue our own work.”
Olivier then encouraged the audience to “be someone’s reason,” and to embrace the priorities of school because the reward is greater than the struggle.
“There are people who have prayed, died and paid for you to be where you are today,” he said. “Realize that your greatness is not your own. Getting my Ph.D. was for my sisters — my children. It’s for the brother who wants to be a biologist but hasn’t seen someone like him before. It is not about you. Someone else’s reason may be because of your success. Go out and be someone’s reason.”
Olivier, originally from Patterson, earned his bachelor’s degree in biological science from Louisiana State University in 2006. He earned his doctorate in environmental and evolutionary biology at UL Lafayette in 2013.
Taylor Brown, a sophomore nursing major from Lafayette, said receiving the award has been an honor.
“It’s an honor to have received it two consecutive years because it shows that my hard work is paying off academically, and I would like to see myself continue to be a part of a great group of students who are being recognized for their academic achievements,” she said. “It inspires me to continue forth in my studies because I have sacrificed a lot in order to be where I am academically.
“I think that this award is a great way to recognize minority students on our campus because it lets us know that we are doing something worth recognition and not being put in the background,” she continued. “There has been a lot of rift lately about not being recognized for positive things, and this is one of them, so I think it’s a great idea. The BFSA also recognizes minority students from elementary and high school and those students seeing us college students continuing to be successful also gives them hope and encouragement to do the same.”
Select students also received the Joseph Chaisson Freshman Minority Scholarship, Christiana Smith Alumni Chapter 2016-2017 Scholarship and the UL Lafayette Black Faculty and Staff Association Scholarship.