Officially chartered in October 2020, UNLV’s newest affinity club — the African American Alumni Club (AAAC) — now is working to expand its membership and better support UNLV’s increasingly diverse student body and alumni base.
Among the group's organizers is Joytaya Pollard, ’02 BS Biological Sciences. Her interest in the club came in 2019, after the Alumni Association launched the Rebels Forever model, in which all alumni — now more than 130,000 graduates — are automatically members of the association.
“I was getting emails from the association, and I started attending events, and I thought, this is the right time to do this,” she said. “I’m very excited about it.”
The new organization is the university's third affinity group, along with Native American Alumni and Veterans Alumni. Alumni engagement leaders are hoping to increase the number and variety of such groups.
Many alumni connect through their individual college’s groups, such as the Hospitality Alumni Chapter, but affinity groups offer a different type of bonding experience, noted Blake Douglas, associate vice president for alumni engagement and executive director of the association.
“Affinity clubs are extremely important to grow and expand alumni participation,” he said. “It’s a safe space. It’s an entry point. While these groups are open to all, the mission is to give alumni with similar experiences a way to connect and work together.”
UNLV is known nationwide for its diverse student body – 63 percent of students identify as minorities, with nearly 8 percent identifying as African American or Black. Among graduates, about 6 percent self-identify as African American or Black.
Alumni affinity clubs help develop networks between students and alumni, raise awareness for future students, and build bridges for career development and community events. Historically marginalized groups also may find a support system or a platform for progressive change through sharing a common background or set of life experiences.
“Right now we are trying to raise awareness for the club, and we have plans for more events in the future,” said AAAC President Joytaya Pollard. Ultimately, the club members hope to help "ensure younger African American students have the resources and tools to go to college.”
During the spring semester, AAAC participated in UNLV African American Scholars Day, an annual event meant to introduce Black high school students to the university.
“We participated to share our experiences as students and particularly our experiences as African American students who attended UNLV,” Pollard said.
In addition to encouraging younger African American students to attend UNLV, the AAAC also uses its platforms to educate people about African American history and culture. For example, during Black History Month in February, the AAAC’s Facebook page theme was “Black HERstory,” and the club posted about influential African American women throughout history.
The club also has hosted and participated in various events such Start Something, an African American female entrepreneur workshop series to promote black businesses and information sessions on using social media effectively, supported campus food drives, and volunteered at the 2021 graduation ceremonies and alumni graduation giveaway.
The AAAC is actively recruiting members, be sure to check out its Facebook page for membership requirements and more information about the club. You also can direct message AAAC President Joytaya Pollard via the Facebook page.