Student Jazmyne Burroughs on Student Involvement and the Black Identity
Jazmyne Burroughs can often be found in the UCF Multicultural Student Center’s office helping to plan and promote cultural events for UCF students. Her position as marketing co-director keeps her busy and allows her to interact with students from many different backgrounds. As a black student leader at UCF, she is making a difference by spreading awareness and advocating inclusivity.
Burroughs, a junior, came to UCF from West Palm Beach to major in sports and exercise science. She is involved in a variety of campus organizations, including the Black Female Development Circle, National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Delta Sigma Theta sorority. After graduating, she hopes to pursue a career in physical therapy with a track in pediatrics to work with children with motor disabilities, such as cerebral palsy and Down syndrome.
Burroughs discusses her involvement at UCF and what makes her proud to be black.
Ashley Garrett: What makes you proud to be black?
JB: What makes me proud to be black is knowing my history and what my ancestors went through to provide what I have now, which seems to come so easily. Sometimes we forget that we couldn’t always go to PWIs [predominantly white institutions] or drink out of the same water fountain. We tend to forget that because we don’t have to directly experience it, but these things just happened like 50, 60 years ago. It hasn’t been that long.
AG: What three words would you use to describe the black identity?
JB: Bold. Beautiful. Intelligent.
Black people are known for the way they present themselves. You know a black person when they walk in the room. We’re distinctive. Everything that we represent and everything that we do is beautiful in the way that we attract people to our culture. And of course, we’re very intelligent — black women are on the rise. These are words that I and the people I’ve surrounded myself with have encompassed throughout our college careers.
AG: Who are the black role models who inspire you?
JB: My mom. She had her first child at 17. She had all these great things going for her prior to becoming pregnant. She really had high expectations of herself. Even after she had her child, she still went to college and completed her degree, established her career. Now she is the best teacher I could ever imagine. She is very personable, and people love that about her. That’s why I aspire to be more like her.
Definitely also Michelle Obama. Even though her husband was president, she still held her own. She got her law degree, and she is elegant and poised.
Latisha Miller, the director of BFDC [Black Female Development Circle], is also a role model to me because she just does so much. I get to interact with her every day, so I see her ups and downs. She just never folds — she always comes out on top.
AG: Why did you decide to come to UCF?
JB: I looked up the physical therapy program here at UCF. There was a great program, and it was close to home so I said, “I should go there.” Ever since, I’ve been in love with UCF.
AG: Why is it important for minority students to get involved on campus?
JB: Representation is definitely key. It’s just good to expose ourselves to these leadership positions because they’re a stepping stone to what kind of person you want to be in your corporate career.
AG: What is your involvement with the Multicultural Student Center and what have you learned from it?
JB: I joined MSC this year. As the marketing co-director I run social media.
MSC has been a real eye-opener to me because people see “cultural” and they just see “black,” but it means different cultures. (Through MSC) I’ve been exposed to different cultures, peoples, foods, ideas and dances, as well as the LGBTQ+ community.
It’s just interesting to see how other people live and how you perceive others from the category you’re in. I’m a straight, black female so I have my way of thinking, but a black female who is a lesbian or transgender may have a different way of thinking. I think MSC has really helped to just show me more what the world is like. There are different people so you have to know how to interact with and respect them.
AG: How have your leadership positions with Black Female Development Circle impacted your college experience?
JB: BFDC was the first organization I joined here at UCF in order to get acquainted with more black people, especially black females, on campus. BFDC’s mission is to educate, explore, enhance and celebrate womanhood.
I was a member, then public relations chair, and now I’m the assistant director. Hopefully, next year I will be the director.
These positions I’ve held (with BFDC) have shaped me as a woman because I’ve had the chance to meet so many different women. They’ve empowered me and been my role models, and now I’m the one everyone is looking up to because of things I bring to the organization.