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Sisters United: Conference Provides Mentorship and Peer Guidance for Female African American Students

 

 

Joyce Johnson, professor emeritus of English and CSUDH Queenmother; photo by Joanie Harmon

Sisters United: Conference Provides Mentorship and Peer Guidance for Female African American Students

The Sisterhood of Isis is for helping freshmen become acclimated to the campus and provide them with direction and nurturing
- Joyce Johnson, professor emeritus of English
 

The Cal State Dominguez Hills Queenmothers Society and the Sisterhood of Isis Mentoring Program are sponsoring “Sisters United: Lifting As We Climb,” a free conference for female African American students on Friday, March 10, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Extended Education Complex, Conference Room 1213.

Joyce Johnson, emeritus professor of English and coordinator, Honors Program, emphasizes the combination of the ten-year-old CSUDH Queenmothers Society of accomplished and mature women and role model students as “linking the generations” to provide guidance for young black women.

“A Queenmother in African society is a very powerful position,” she says. “These are women, who because of their seniority, are seen as the repositories of wisdom. One of the reasons we wanted to have this conference is to mold those two communities together and have the Queenmothers serve as an elders circle for the Sisterhood of Isis.”

The Sisterhood of Isis was Johnson’s brainchild, established to ensure the retention of female freshmen by taking its members through the program in order to turn them into peer mentors for the next group of incoming freshmen. She explains the significance of Isis for the group as “the purest example of a loving mother.”

“The Sisterhood of Isis is for helping freshmen become acclimated to the campus and provide them with direction and nurturing,” she says. “Isis was the patron of women, mothers and children. Our logo shows her nurturing Horus on her lap. So we selected her as a symbol to demonstrate what we hope the Sisterhood of Isis will provide for the young women in the program.”

“Sisters United: Lifting As We Climb” offers a range of topics that Johnson hopes will be beneficial to female students, such as “Sisternomics,” with Queenmother Vergie Seymore advising on money matters; Health Educator Anita Roberts of Student Health and Psychological Services speaking on sexual health with “Preserving Your Secret Garden,”; and African cultural history presented by Queenmother Nzinga Heru, founder of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilization. Students Tamanika Ferguson, Montreece Payton, Shanice Harris, Cynthia Wade, and LaToya Parsee will present SASSY (Student Academic Success Strategies 4 You). Presentations will be followed by table discussions during the day, presided over by the Queenmothers.

“Again, it’s bringing the Queenmothers and the young women together in a meaningful exchange,” says Johnson. “It will help the Queenmothers to know what’s going on in the young girls’ minds, and it will give them an opportunity to do some teaching.”

Johnson, a CSUDH alumna, (Class of ’70, B.A., English/African American Studies; ’72, M.A., English) describes a need for students to have a sense of camaraderie.

"I was here in the 1960s and the 1970s,” she says. “The Black Student Union was very powerful. With the women’s movement beginning, the students were much more active on their own behalf during that period and less so now. Students seem to be going mostly in their own directions, except for the Greek organizations.

“If we can get the students in the Sisterhood to be involved in the success of new students, they will have a sense of direction, something that they can become committed to.”

Students planning to attend “Sisters United: Lifting As We Climb” must RSVP no later then Wednesday, March 8. Reservations may be confirmed by calling (310)243-3050.

For information on the Queenmothers Society, visit http://www.csudh.edu/Africana/OrganizationsCommittees/QueenMother.asp

For information on the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilization, visithttp://www.ascac.org/

-Joanie Harmon

 
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Last updated Tuesday, February 7, 12:36 p.m., by Joanie Harmon