CECH Student Shines Bright During Kuamka Celebrations
By Chandler Curry
At the start of her UC journey, Chanel Yvette VanDyke began her undergraduate studies in pre-pharmacy. As her first semester progressed, she realized that it wasn’t the right fit. Changing her major to exploratory, she took the time to find herself and what she wanted to do in life. She reflected on the people who have influenced her throughout her life and one common trait kept reappearing. Some of the most influential people in her life have been educators. Taking the inspiration her educators have bestowed, she intends to be the same source of encouragement to her future students.
Now a third year middle school education major, VanDyke has been working diligently with that goal in mind. She also aims to help impact the lives of everyone around her. She is a part of numerous organizations all directed at helping others. On campus she is a Habari Gani Ambassador for the African American Cultural and Resource Center (AARC); Public Relations co-chair for the UC African Student Association (UCASA); Vice-President of Umoja Praise Dance Ensemble; member of the AACRC Choir; a Campus Campaign Coordinator for Teach for America; a Bearcat Buddy; a mentor for the CECH Triple Play Mentoring Program; and a recent Spring 2015 tapp of The Lambda Society and the Cincinnatus Honor Society. All of VanDyke’s involvement and hard work has only begun to be recognized.
She was honored for her accomplishments at this year’s Kuamka celebrations, being crowned Miss Kuamka. Kuamka translates to ‘in the beginning’ in Swahili and is a week-long celebration by African-American students honoring their transition into college. The week’s festivities include the Rite of Passage ceremony, recognition of students who have excelled in their respected academics, and of course the crowning of Mr. and Miss Kuamka. VanDyke accompanied this year’s Mr. Kuamka, Mitchell Allan Phelps, a second year Marketing and International Business major.
Kuamka contestants compete in a Q&A, essay, and talent competition. VanDyke participated against six other women for this year’s honor. Her involvement and diligence made her a front-runner for the competition. Reflecting the sentiments VanDyke shared during the Kuamka event, she looks forward to positively assisting students around her. “It was such an honor to be crowned Miss Kuamka, these celebrations represent the AACRC and the black community. I look forward to helping the AACRC and giving back because they have done so much for me and numerous others,” she proclaimed. AACRC’s purpose is to enhance student’s education while at UC and with VanDyke at the helm the AACRC will continue to do great things this coming year.
Upon graduation she hopes to work for Teach for America. She began working with the organization as Campus Campaign Coordinator (CCC) and she fell in love with their mission and vowed to help students who may not have many opportunities to get a proper education. Considering VanDyke’s welcoming personality and her extensive resume, when she begins teaching she will be the light of encouragement for students, influencing many others like her to continually better themselves and their communities.