With a conference theme of “Decolonizing the Mind,” the annual ALANA Student Leadership Conference at SUNY Oswego, Sept. 18 to 23, will promote empowerment, self-awareness and embracing diversity. 

Speakers, musicians, networking opportunities, a peace walk and a popular fashion show are among the highlights of the annual conference coordinated by the cultural alliance of ALANA (African, Latino, Asian and Native American) and affiliated organizations.

Educator Darlynda Brownlee, who earned her bachelor’s in childhood education (2014) and master’s in special education (2016) from SUNY Oswego, will serve as keynote speaker with a 6 p.m. talk in the Marano Campus Center auditorium (Room 132) on the conference’s opening day, Wednesday, Sept. 18.

Brownlee teaches third grade for the Syracuse City School District, where she is also a member of the district’s Urban Fellowship Program and her elementary school’s School Leadership Team and Climate Team. Her many involvements while at Oswego included with the Caribbean Student Association, as an ALANA conference planner, Teachers Opportunity Corps, Omicron Delta Kappa honor society, The Point student organization center and Hart Hall. 

The conference’s opening day on Sept. 18 also will feature a 7 p.m. alumni student leadership panel in 132 Marano Campus Center, where successful Oswego graduates will talk about their development and involvement during their college years and will offer advice on transitioning from college to a professional job environment.

The alumni panel will include Brownlee, Christopher Collins-McNeil (class of 2016), George Colon (1971) and Juan Fermin (2015). Jasmine Khan will serve as student host with Kyla Harding and Michelle Adeoshun as moderators. A post-panel networking event for attendees to meet and ask questions of the alumni panelists will begin at 8 p.m. 

Popular annual events 

The popular highlight of the ALANA Fashion Show will return at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, in the Hewitt ballroom. Presented by several student organizations, this event will celebrate cultural fashions and music, and feature guest artist Matthew Schuler, who made the top six in NBC’s “The Voice” and hit #1 in the iTunes singles chart and entered the Billboard Top 40 with a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” DJ Tumbo, a 2012 SUNY Oswego graduate, returns to provide the mood and energy. Michael Kolawole serves as student host.

Tickets to the fashion show cost $7 for SUNY Oswego students, $10 for the general public, available online, through any on-campus box office or by calling 315-312-3073. Doors open at 6:15 p.m.

Another annual event, the Unity Peace Walk, will begin at noon at Oswego City Hall on Sunday, Sept. 22, and culminate on campus. The walk’s purpose is to promote unity among students, faculty and staff within the campus community and with Oswego’s residents.

Sept. 22 also will feature the annual ALANA Banquet, this year with a theme of “Cultural Renaissance,” with food and open-floor dancing in Hewitt ballroom. Doors open at 6 p.m. for the 6:30 banquet. Tickets cost $8 for SUNY Oswego students, $15 for the public, available online, through any on-campus box office or by calling 315-312-3073.

‘Afrikan Epic’ presented

As a closing event, the Mark Lomax Quartet will present “400: An Afrikan Epic” at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 23 in Sheldon Hall ballroom, as part of the college’s Artswego Performing Arts Series. Divided into three parts, the work expires the thousands of years of pre-colonial Afrika, the Ma’afa (400 years between 1619 and 2019) and Afro-futurism expressing a vision of what blacks in America will heal toward in the next 400 years. Lomax has said the work celebrates the resilience, brilliance, strength, genius and creativity of a people who continue to endure, while offering a transformative view of the future.

Tickets for the concert cost $20 for the general public; $15 for SUNY Oswego faculty, staff and alumni; and $5 for SUNY Oswego students, other students and children. Tickets are available online, through any on-campus box office or by calling 315-312-3073.

As part of the conference, Lomax will present a lecture, "Black Music and Black Power in the Era of #BlackLivesMatter," at 12:30 p.m. in the Marano Campus Center auditorium, Room 132. That talk, about the role black musicians have traditionally played in social movements, is free and open to the public.

Other events will include:

  • “The Workplace,” on how to emphasize culture at work, 6 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 19, 114 Marano Campus Center
  • “What is Diaspora?,” bringing awareness of this term and Asian experiences in America, 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 19, 114 Marano Campus Center
  • “Danger of a Single Story,” geared toward the destigmatization of minority stereotypes and how they came to be, 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 20, 114 Marano Campus Center
  • “I, Too, Am Study Abroad: Diverse Student Voices,” a panel discussion of returning study abroad students on their experiences, 4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23, Hart Hall classroom.

ALANA organizations involved in organizing the conference include the African Student Organization, Asian Student Association, Black Student Union, Caribbean Student Association, Latino Student Union and National Association of Black Accountants, plus guest organizations Oswego Gospel Choir and Image Step Team.

All these events, and other on-campus happenings, are listed on the college's events calendar.