Oluwatumininu “Tumi” Akinyombo, president and founder of the African Student Association, was awarded Suffolk University’s Creating the Dream award for her work around spreading the beauty of African cultures and building community on campus.
According to Suffolk’s website the award, named in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “recognizes Suffolk students, faculty, and staff who are instrumental in building an inclusive, respectful, and safe environment for the university’s communities of color.”
Akinyombo is a current global business and economics senior at Suffolk, who was nominated for the award by her peers.
During the award ceremony last month, President Marisa Kelly spoke of Akinyombo’s accomplishments that led to her nomination.
“Her nominators have described her as someone who has fervently shown her commitment to living out the mission of the Student African Association and educating the campus community about the rich experiences, culture and heritage of Africa,” Kelly said. “She leads with enthusiasm and intention, during club meetings her welcoming presence promotes an inclusive space for all to learn.”
Akinyombo founded the club her sophomore year after recognizing the need for a safe space for those looking to explore their African heritage.
“To me, it [the award] just really shows that the work I’ve put in, the work my team has put in, is actually working and that my efforts haven’t just gone in vain in the sense that I saw that there was no room for African students in particular, not just students of color, and that there was a need for that,” Akinyombo said.
ASA works to create a safe space for those who identify with African culture through their meetings and events, which showcase the beauty and positivity that stems from their cultures.
“We try to show the club in a positive light,” Akinyombo said. “There are issues at hand that Africa definitely does have, however the beauty should not be extinguished.”
The club also works to break stereotypes and show Africa through an in-depth and fully rounded lens.
“We had a meeting titled ‘Identity in Africa,’ and it’s pretty much breaking the stereotypes of who an African is and what it ‘means’ to be African. What are the stereotypes we know about Africa and breaking that, but also identifying that we came from these roots and how do we embrace that and how do we show the beauty of that,” Akinyombo said.
ASA club meetings are often question-based, opening the floor for conversations between the members and allowing them to explore the thoughts they have about how to embrace their heritage and learn from each other.
Akinyombo is currently partnered with the African non-profit, Comfort Literacy and Innovation Enhancement Foundation, to host a gala this semester that will benefit visually impaired Africans. More details will be coming out within the next few weeks on how to donate to the cause.
ASA meetings are open to anyone who wishes to learn about African culture in a respectful way. Meeting days and times are communicated to members through email or Instagram.
To join ASA, reach out via email at [email protected] or on Instagram @suffolk_asa.