Transylvania receives YMCA Black Achievers Community Achiever of the Year Award

Taran McZee, associate vice president for diversity and inclusion, is pictured center at last month’s awards ceremony.

The YMCA of Central Kentucky Black Achievers recently honored Transylvania University with the 2019 Community Achiever of the Year Award for the school’s partnership with the program.

Transylvania not only provides a space for Black Achievers to meet two Saturday mornings a month, but members of the university community also participate in activities with the youths. This engagement ranges from meeting with campus student organizations to conducting science experiments with professors to attending basketball games.

The YMCA award, which recognizes exceptional support of Black Achievers, comes after Transylvania increased its involvement with the program this past school year. Other events included attending a speech by Kentucky State University President M. Christopher Brown II as part of Transylvania’s Martin Luther King Jr. celebration this past January.

“We look forward to a long relationship, and to continue moving forward with the program,” said Taran McZee, associate vice president for diversity and inclusion.

Black Achievers helps youths of color “set and pursue higher educational and career goals” while reaching “into the heart of the community with the help of dedicated volunteers, educational institutions, corporate sponsors and community partners who support the program through time, talents and treasures,” according to the YMCA.

Through Black Achievers, the YMCA brings in speakers to talk to youths about possible career paths—from engineering to hospitality to agriculture. Also, high school seniors can focus on prep work for attending college.

Participants also have met with Transylvania students who are members of groups such as the Black Student Alliance and Student Activities Board — “so they can see what student organizations and college students do outside of the classroom,” said Te’Asia Martin, assistant director of diversity and campus engagement.

Meeting with Transylvania students, who may come from similar backgrounds, helps to show the Black Achievers participants that going to college, even a private one, is a viable option for them.

Martin said she expects to expand opportunities for Transylvania student groups to get involved. “We’re trying to find ways to deepen the partnership.”

Hosting the Black Achievers meetings is one of many ways the university engages with youths from the local community. Another is Pioneer Pathway, a grant-funded program that supports African American and Hispanic high school males in their college enrollment.