Shayla Young is a BSU senior majoring in English with a double minor in theater arts and African American studies. Throughout her BSU career, she has focused on the education and advocacy for people of color on campus with the Martin Richard’s Institute for Social Justice, the African American Studies department, as well as the Theater Department.
Young’s theater career at BSU began her sophomore year. Since then, she has gone on to perform in several shows, including her most recent as Raylynn in Blood at the Root.
Young stated, “portraying Raylynn was both very fun and very difficult for me as Raylynn deals with some issues that hit close to home for me, but it was absolutely amazing and I had wonderful castmates… not only were we each other’s cast but we were each other’s support.”
Young is a Justice Fellow for the Martin Richard’s Institute of Social Justice. Young describes her work there as advocating “for all students of color and all students in general and making sure that we are the voice when it comes to advocacy.”
With the institute, Young is working on an “Arts for Activism” project called “The Bigger Picture” that “represents the voices of students,” so keep an eye out for that in the near future!
Young is also the active intern for the African American Studies department. While this is a relatively new position, Young has already held a successful event in recent months.
“I was able to create a bingo game that taught about African American figures,” said Young. “Different figures who we don’t necessarily hear about all the time… students got to see things from different perspectives because I didn’t just do civil rights activists.”
Dr. Field, coordinator of the African American Studies department, asked Young to help as an intern for the African American Studies program as they “try to build up the minor.”
“It was important to me because as a little girl, representation meant everything to me… I would go and sneak off to the history section of the library and see African American figures and Civil Rights Activists,” said Young. “The first book I think I ever picked up was an autobiography on Ruby Bridges, she was the first little girl to integrate to an all-white school… this little girl was really the only representation at the time. It sparked this need for me to learn more.”
Young was excited to take on the internship, stating, “the fact that I am able to help people and bring them closer to the minor is so cool because I wish somebody had done something like that when I was a little girl.”
Throughout our interview, one thing that stood out was Shayla’s passion for advocacy and education for African American culture and their representation.
“Not only do we need to fix the school’s image on representation, I think we need to as a community come together and really acknowledge the fact that the University in a sense needs to learn how to do things better…in order for us to move forward we need to help the faculty know what to do… it’s important to hear from students now more than ever… the students know what we need and now it’s just up to us to listen,” said Young.
Dr. Field said, “Shayla has incredible creative energy and passion for the field of African American Studies, so she was a natural choice to work as a student intern for the Program. Shayla has a wealth of ideas, but she also has the follow-through to make them come to fruition. It’s been a pleasure watching her in her element in this role; she has been such a valuable asset to the program as an ambassador for African American Studies.”
Young said, “It’s been a pleasure to be a part of the BSU community for the last four years… I thought my future was limited to maybe two things in this world but because of the love and support and opportunities that have opened up for me at BSU the possibilities are endless.”