Jayden Hand found out what a good neighbor she has in the Stanislaus State Stockton Campus.
The junior at Stockton’s Cesar Chavez High School, and president of its Black Student Union, was on her own to plan a Black History Month program at her school. Last year’s club had put together a fun and informative program, but the officers had all graduated, and Hand didn’t have reliable help.
“It was Feb. 1, and I had no idea what to do,” Hand said. “I was frustrated, but also overwhelmed. I was like, ‘Do I need to do something? I feel like I should be doing something.’”
At the suggestion of her mom, Keisha Milligan, Hand reached out to local universities, even though she had no connections to anyone. Stan State Black Student Union advisor Marvin Williams was so impressed by the high school student’s effort, he responded right away to offer help.
He connected Hand to Joy Vickers, Warriors on the Way (WOW) lead admissions counselor, who works on the San Joaquin Delta College campus. Vickers sprang into action.
By the time Cesar Chavez High celebrated Black History Month on Feb. 17 in its outdoor quad, Vickers had arranged for an interactive path with images of prominent historical figures, courtesy of the Warrior Cross Cultural Center, a display of relevant books from the Stockton Campus Library, a photo booth, an artist booth at which Vickers shared one of her poems and a friend who lives in Stockton shared a painting, and a WOW table with student ambassadors providing information about Stan State.
- Joy Vickers, Warriors on the Way (WOW) Lead Admissions Counselor
“It was a chain reaction,” Vickers said. “Marvin reached out to me, and I knew I could do something. I knew I could reach out to people who could help.
“I thought it was great. I’m impressed that it all came together. Jayden did a great job with the resources she had. I let her know in the future if she wants to do it again, she can reach out to us, and we can be there to support her from the beginning. Our University has talked about being a presence in the Stockton community, and we were able to put action behind our words.”
For her part, Hand got an amazing introduction to Stan State.
“They showed me that when people reach out to you and need help it’s all hands-on-deck,” Hand said. “You’ve got to help people within your community, especially minorities. Seeing they were so willing to help me made me want to help other people, too.
“Reaching out to high schools is something I want to look into. This community is such a tight-knit community, and I want this event to be a good one, to celebrate my culture and show other people what an amazing thing it is to be a part of.”
In addition to emails to Stan State and other universities, Hand relied on Instagram to reach Black-owned business owners willing to sell food and their wares at tables. All of it gave the 16-year-old, who has lived in Stockton for eight years, an education she’s been lacking.
“I didn’t even know February was Black History Month until recently,” Hand said.
That was similar to the experience of her mom, who grew up in foster care but only lived with one African American family. She wants her daughter, who is half Native American, to experience the culture she identifies with as the child of a single Black mom.
Hand’s education began when she volunteered at Stockton’s Black Family Day, which is held every year on Labor Day at Weber Point Events Center and draws more than a thousand people who gather to enjoy music, food, activities and great company.
“It was a whole day celebrating Black-owned businesses,” Hand said. “That’s where I got the idea. I saw how they showcased businesses. I wanted to do something along those lines.”
Having put together a successful program, Hand is already thinking ahead to Black History Month 2024.
“I want this to give her hope she can make it even better and all-inclusive next year,” her mom said. “Her getting colleges involved will bring more exposure to her peers about colleges and what they have to offer.”
Hand’s reaching out to Stan State benefits the University, too.
Vickers made connections with administrators, counselors and teachers at Chavez High and was invited to a community open house on the campus in April. Additionally, they are discussing having Stan State ambassadors set up a table during lunch to talk to students about Stan State and the Stockton Campus.
“We want to let students know about Stan State and what’s going on,” Vickers said. “We were there to promote Stan State and not just the Stockton Campus, but the whole University. This was a great benefit, an opportunity to create new partnerships and be able to go back and reach out to our community.”
And, Vickers said, she is ready to help make next year’s Black History Month event even better.