Ujima: Where hope meets opportunity

Ujima is a Swahili term which means, “to build and maintain our community together; to make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, to solve them together.” Riverside City College’s Ujima Project is an academic program whose mission is to increase student success and help the community.

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By Danny Khneiser

Common ground (Martin Iniguez, Jr.)

By Danny Khneiser

Ujima is a Swahili term which means, “to build and maintain our community together; to make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, to solve them together.”

Riverside City College’s Ujima Project is an academic program whose mission is to increase student success and help the community.

As a club, Ujima members do community service, college tours and various field trips.

The club connects students to community mentors and enriches academic programs.

It incorporates African American emphasis within the educational experience, increasing degrees earned, transfer rates, vocational skills training and developing leadership skills with the help of counselors, as well as peer and faculty mentoring.

Racheal Manley, an officer of Ujima, encourages anyone that is issue-oriented to join Ujima. “Never have I been in a place with such young forward thinking African Americans. The individuals in this room are accepting and tolerant of their peers,” Manley said. “We have grown to become a support system to one another.”

Ujima does what is necessary to improve students’ success. They also plan on traveling to Uganda on July 9 to do whatever they can to improve the living situation of the Ugandan people.

Members look forward to completing their education and love helping one another, as well as others.

The Ujima experience provides student orientation, business learning communities, career guidance, mentoring, success workshops, financial aid guidance, transfer assistance and annual luncheons.

“This organization is a grave stepping stone to advancing one to their goals,” Manley said. “Many of the people here are bright, helpful, knowledgeable and connected. Start here with Ujima and go anywhere.”

Angela Henry loves the way Ujima has changed her learning experience at RCC.

“This is a club that is set to help students succeed in college. When I joined Ujima, I immediately felt welcomed by everyone,” Henry said. “I have been excelling in all my classes because of the moral support from everyone in Ujima. I highly recommend everyone to join Ujima.”

Members of the Ujima Project recently made a visit to Loma Linda’s Ronald McDonald House. They prepared home cooked meals and played games with children diagnosed with cancer and their families.

Things like this allow these families to take their minds off of the cancer their loved ones have, and give students the opportunity to give back to the community in a productive manner.

“Our recent trip to Ronald McDonald’s house was a wonderful experience; we had so much fun hanging out with the families of the patients at the Ronald McDonald house,” Henry said.

Students participating in the club, including club Activity Coordinator Laura King, consider one another family.

“When I come in here I feel the warmth and a sense of love. No matter what goes on in my life I know someone here will help me,” King said. “Ujima is the reason I stayed in school. I love everyone here genuinely.”

Ujima president Antony Frank feels very fortunate to be a part of such a wonderful group of people.

“This program was a major factor in my academic success,” Frank said. “I now feel like I matter. We don’t have as many active members as we should, but we make do with the ones we have, together we stand.”

Stand united (Martin Iniguez, Jr.)

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