This past Saturday, Ball State’s Black Graduate Student Association hosted its annual inaugural Black Graduate Luncheon. At the luncheon, they honored and awarded several students and faculty members for their achievements!


What is BGSA?

The Black Graduate Student Association offers a community of support to African American students; specifically, those pursuing graduate-level degrees at Ball State University. The BGSA supports the educational mission of the University with the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services. They provide distinctive opportunities for student learning. 

Through developing innovative experiential programs that support student academic success, wellness, and personal growth, they foster an inclusive, diverse, safe, and accessible campus community. BGSA cultivates individual, campus, civic, and global responsibility. They ensure these opportunities through their impactful leadership in the community. 

BGSA empowers its students. They host professional development opportunities, networking events, a speaker series, several social gatherings, and academic workshops.  

The Award

BGSA awards its outstanding students and mentors every year with the Black Graduate Student of The Year Award. Those awarded show exemplary growth, professionally or in their personal life. Furthermore, this motivates our students and faculty to continue along their path to success!

Student Recipients

This year, three students were awarded, Raylin Taylor, Zakara Durgans, and Jaylyn Graham. Zakara Durgans, a CICS graduate student, responded, “This award meant a lot to me because this year, in particular, has been a true year of growth for me personally and professionally. I’ve been a part of numerous projects this year, in and outside of my program. I’ve had the opportunity to network with so many individuals that have taught me so much. It felt incredible to have my hard work acknowledged and recognized so that others could see all that I’ve been working on.”

Another of the awarded students, Raylin Taylor, shared, “The Black Graduate Student Association gave me the award for Black Graduate of the Year because they noticed how dedicated I am to making this campus as inclusive as possible.” Raylin is determined to make the black experience better for each student at Ball State. 

Mentor Recipients

Furthermore, two incredible mentors were recognized for their achievements. Dr. Maria Williams-Hawkins and Dr. Gabriel Tait, the two founding professors of BGSA received the Mentor of the Year Award!

As a recipient, Dr. Maria replied, “BGSA is near to my heart. It was co-created with the focus on helping graduate students of color who often have no one in their departments they can turn to. BGSA has given Black and Brown students faculty members who could speak to their department, program chairs, or deans on their behalf. Our comments have helped programs stop recruiting just to get students of color without first making a plan to meet the needs that the majority of students might not have. BGSA has allowed black graduate students to meet each other and commiserate over the challenges they have. It has provided an opportunity to help graduate students get closer to reaching their goals.”


Interested in the Black Gradute Assosiation? Click here for more information!

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