UMD alumni honored in CSA 's A Night With the Stars gala

All of West Indian culture was represented in the Nyumburu Cultural Center the night of February 22. University of Maryland’s Caribbean Student Association hosted their anticipated “Gala: A Night With the Stars.”

The event was hosted by Jamal Seaforth, a junior journalism and international relations major, and D’Kiya Bynum, government and politics and French studies double major.

The gala opened up with a cover performance of Lauryn Hill’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” from cabinet member Kyeisha Laurence, a sophomore cell biology major French minor on the pre-med track.  

The gala was organized to gather current student members and appreciate alumni according to current CSA president Eileen Martin, a junior biology major.

“[The gala] is a mixture of the students and alumni coming together. Let them know the challenges they dealt with while they were here, and let us know how to deal with them now and after graduation,” Martin said.

The night was full of Caribbean music from DJ Mystic Vibes and food, such as plantains and roti, made by members’ parents and performances from not only Laurence, but from University of Maryland’s Riddim Ryderz, a Caribbean dance troupe.

Riddim Ryderz putting on a performance in the Nyumburu Cultural Center. (Sydney Bullock/The Black Explosion)

Riddim Ryderz putting on a performance in the Nyumburu Cultural Center. (Sydney Bullock/The Black Explosion)

While attendees were enjoying the food and performances, awards were granted. Awards ranged from People’s Choice, alumni awards, and executive board choice - where members of the eboard, or the 2018-2019 executive board, decided who in the cabinet members would win.

One award, the Rastudo Award, honored a CSA member who embodies the mission statement most and celebrates the Caribbean culture on and off campus. Another recognized award was the Most Friendly CSA Member award won by current cabinet member Lauren Hosannah, a junior psychology major. For Hosannah, CSA has provided her with a way to stay connected to home, given that her Caribbean heritage is a big part of her identity.

“CSA is a place where I meet like minded people, where together we can enjoy music, food, culture, etcetera and have a common bond,” Hosannah said.

Hosannah also loves CSA for the educational aspect. It gives others a chance to understand that the Caribbean is more than just Jamaica or more than harmful stereotypes that Caribbeans are “lazy...and all smoke weed.”

Proceeds from the gala supported the “Efforts to End HIV” by The Black Aids Institute, according to the gala’s ticket purchase page.

“The Black AIDS Institute develops programs that creates awareness about the HIV crisis in Black communities, provides training to build capacity at the individual and community level, and mobilizes Black communities to advocate for themselves,” the gala’s ticket purchase page said.

Established in 1974, the University of Maryland’s Caribbean Student Association mission is to create bonds for life for Maryland’s students and to create a support system away from home.

If a student wants to join, the CSA president recommends they should attend their GBM’s every other Thursday in the Nyumburu Cultural Center. “If we see your face often we ask who you are,” Martin says. Most people hear of their special events from social media.