Q&A: Tara Johnson, the SDSU African American Alumni Chapter president
African American Alumni Chapter President Tara Johnson (‘96) shares that the chapter first started as a group of friends that connected every year at Homecoming.
SDSU alumna Tara Johnson (‘96) talks about her role as President of the African American Alumni Chapter, how the chapter came to be, and how other alumni can get involved.
What is your role with the African American Alumni Chapter? What do you do for them, and how do you stay involved in it?
I serve as the President of AAAC. As President, serve as the primary liaison between our alumni membership, SDSU administrators, and departments, and actively engage with student programs and organizations to build a proactive organization through Recruitment, Engagement, and Support to strengthen the relationship between the African American community and San Diego State University.
What led to the making of this Alumni Chapter? Talk about what that process was/has been like, if applicable.
Our Alumni Chapter started as a group of friends that connected every year at Homecoming. As the group at Homecoming grew, a Facebook page was created, and that small group wanted to have and support the current students. That early group of friends were accomplished in their careers and were members of organizations that supported and uplifted the Black community. They are able to use their skills, knowledge, and resources to create a Mission and Vision as well as By-Laws. Once the group was formalized, they began to partner with the BRC and began a scholarship fund.
Why are you passionate about being involved with this chapter?
I am passionate about this organization because I know the power of the African principle, Sankofa. The word means “to go back and get it.” The power of Sankofa centers around this: to know history and your heritage is to know your current self, the world around you, and how to better both. Sankofa teaches us the importance of learning from the past to build the future. This chapter actively partners with administrators, clubs, and programs to support students in a way we were not always supported when our members were students.
What are your goals and plans for the future with this alumni chapter?
The goals are to grow our membership, especially for more recent grads, from 2010 until now. Increasing mentoring opportunities for current students and awarding $25,000 in scholarships annually.
How will this alumni chapter work to engage alumni, faculty, and staff? For example, will there be events?
We have a very active Facebook group with just under 1000 members. We have an OUTSTANDING partnership with the BRC, Henrietta Goodwins Scholars, the HB Keep program, Africana Studies, and the NPHC. We have a robust calendar of events that we are moving to implement annually. So far, this academic year we hosted:
- September: Tailgate for UCLA
- October: Day of Service with Habitat for Humanity
- November: Homecoming Weekend with a Golf Outing
- December: partnered with the BRC for Kwaanza/Sankofa celebration and our General Body Meeting
- January: Sponsored a table for the MLK luncheon
With two events still to come:
- March: General Body Meeting and Family Reunion
- May: Fundraising and Baccalaureate celebration
How can other alumni support the chapter and join/get involved?
We are a dues-free organization, and alumni can join and support us in a few ways:
They can join our Facebook group, SDSU African American Alumni Chapter (AAAC), which is where we post our events and alumni accomplishments.
Connect with us via our website, African American Alumni Chapter @San Diego State University; they can sign up for our database or connect with alumni from their decade
Is there any other information about the chapter that you would like to share?
The best part of our organization is connecting with alumni you were at State with AND making new friends. Our love for our alma mater runs deep, and it's amazing to see alumni from across the decades connect with each other and with the students currently on campus.