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Springfest Black Women Empowerment Expo Fails To Empower Some Howard Women

The panelists and moderators for the second annual Black Women Empowerment Expo took the stage at Cramton Auditorium to discuss Black women in business.  From left to right: Autumn Joi, Zoe Warner, Jayda Cheaves, Amber Jones and Jasmine Young. Photo Courtesy of Tiasia Saunders.

Howard’s Undergraduate Student Assembly (UGSA) hosted its second annual Black Women Empowerment Expo during Springfest in an effort to inform the Howard community about entrepreneurial pathways and success as a Black woman in business.

Featuring three panelists, including local radio host Autumn Joi, alumna and director of Howard’s School of Business Warner Music/Blavatnik Center for Music and Entertainment Business, Jasmine Young, and socialite and businesswoman, Jayda Cheaves, the event took place on April 13 in Cramton Auditorium before a sea of Howard women. 

“For Howard to have a high percentage of women attending, I liked the intention behind this event. I think the women’s careers were very broad and didn’t apply to all professionally,” Bethann Miller, a sophomore nursing major said. 

Moderated by Zoe Warner, a junior broadcast journalism major, and Amber Jones, a Media, TV, & Film major, the hour-long event was set up as a Q&A session. At the end of the event, students were allowed to ask their own questions. Joi particularly discussed the importance of defining success for one’s self. 

“Success can be as small as getting an ‘A’ on that test, getting up to work out, or breaking up with that dude. You are the only person with your gift and talent, no matter what other people are doing,” Joi said.

Other topics discussed during the expo included self-growth tips and general business advice. However, these topics were discussed within a limited timeframe as the event began an hour later than expected, and the ability to network was not enough for freshman TV and Film major Debbie Pace. 

“I felt that there was not enough time. I thought that more could be asked about why there is prejudice within the workplace for Black women in positions of power or influence,” Pace explained.

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“During the event, we covered the successes of these different women, but not the failures,” she added. 

Cheaves was perhaps the most popular panelist, as her stage entrance was greeted with flashing phone cameras and thunderous students excited to see the social media star. She warned students of the dangers of comparison on their journeys.

“Stay firm in what you believe in. Comparison is the thief of joy, so I stay in my own lane,” Cheaves said.

She surprised the students with limited WAYDMIN x Howard University tops at the end of the panel session. She also took pictures and videos with several students before leaving. This portion was a favorite of Marlow Buckner, a freshman TV and film major.

“My favorite part of the event was getting the shirts after because I was able to have something to remember this event by. One takeaway that I have from the event is that it is important not to measure your own success based on others,” Buckner said. 

Copy edited by Nhandi Long-Shipman

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