The African and African American studies (AFRI) department held their open house this past Tuesday. It provided students an opportunity to see the department and talk with faculty and staff.

“We wanted an opportunity to have people come through the AFRI suite,” Dr. Andrea Arrington said. “We wanted to familiarize you with the space.” 

Students enjoyed pizza, cookies and bracelet making while learning about the programs. 

“We do black history all year long, not just in February,” Dr. Colleen Haas said. “Today we are celebrating that fact during black history month. We are putting a special spotlight on our majors… we are building community amongst our students who are in the program, and also anybody that is interested in getting a major or minor in AFRI studies and to answer any questions.”

Haas teaches many of the core AFRI courses, which count towards the AFRI major and minor, as electives, and as foundational studies. 

“AFRI used to be a whole department, but now it’s a program within the history department,” said Haas. 

The event also featured many AFRI students sharing their personal experiences with the program. 

“I chose the African American studies major… and it actually started with me just wanting to know more about my own culture,” ISU student Tasjia Thomas said. “I also have a love for museums. I like how museums are a way for people to learn without someone lecturing you. My use for [my major] professionally is I always put it as teaching without being a teacher. Being able to set up an exhibit or being able to look at different pieces of history or artifacts and being able to show them to other people. Without understanding the past, we can’t understand what people have gone through and experienced.”

The AFRI major and minor can help students in any path they may choose. After graduation in May, Thomas will be using her AFRI major to work with the Vigo County Historical Society.

ISU student Rajeni Jones is planning to pair her AFRI studies with the medical field. 

“I wasn’t aware of a lot of African American studies before coming here, so when I came here it was like, wow,” Jones said. “In my profession, I want to be a nurse practitioner, so I want to combine AFRI with that because there is a disparity in minority groups.”

Garien Woods is a 2014 alumnus that used his AFRI major to become a school counselor. 

“I didn’t choose AFRI, it chose me,” Woods said. “It is definitely a major that opens you into a lot of different fields. It literally prepared me for not just one thing, but many things…. There’s nothing better than learning about yourself. In that way you can pass it on to generations and pass the torch forward and take pride in it.”