Today we feature Kariyah Bennett, a Radio/Television/Film and Journalism double major. Kariyah is from Washington Township, NJ (Gloucester County) and is a senior graduating this spring. Kariyah spends her free time as a member of Rowan Radio and the Rowan Television Network. She also works at the Rowan Recreation Center. Kariyah shares her experience as a Black student at a predominately white institution.
Thank you to Tatianna Addison ’21 for this series idea to honor Black students during Black History Month.
Why did you choose to study RTF and Journalism? Have you always wanted to pursue a career in these fields?
I love the art of communication, I love writing, but I also love the production side of things as well. Since I was a little kid, I was always involved. In middle school I was a member of the newspaper at my middle school, and I was also part of the television series at my middle school and through high school as well.
I have also been told I have a very personable voice and personality, and these majors and fields have honestly just always been a good fit for me, my strengths and my passions.
Why did you choose Rowan to study RTF and Journalism?
I chose Rowan mainly because Rowan has a whirlwind of opportunities, especially at its location. It is located at a great distance between Philadelphia but also New York. I think it is extremely beneficial that the area is located near two major cities.
I also value that Rowan is close to my house and my family. It makes traveling home a lot easier and it gives me comfort knowing that my family is that close as well.
What is your student experience here at Rowan like, as a Black student at a PWI (predominantly white institution)?
Honestly, I do not necessarily feel as if I am at a predominately white institution. I feel like my circle, especially compared to how I grew up, has definitely become more diverse and much more inclusive. I went to a school where I did come to feel the racial disparity greatly. I come from a working class family and went to school with a lot of people that were higher class and there was little disparity. Coming to Rowan has definitely helped me become more diverse in my connections with others and my friends.
How did you find your friend group here at Rowan?
I found my friend group by meeting people through work, class and meetings for different clubs or organizations are I was or am involved with. I am involved with Rowan Radio, the Rowan Television Network, and I was previously involved with The Whit. Being involved in these extracurriculars allow me to easily make friends with many different types of people that I wouldn’t necessarily get to meet just through class or work. I also work at the Rowan REC center; I have met many friends and acquaintances from that experience as well.
How would you describe inclusion? Could you highlight a Rowan classroom or campus experience that was inclusive and made an impact on you?
I took a class called African American Film History. This class really opened my eyes to racial disparity within film in Hollywood. I also took a class called Sociology of the Minority Group. Within this class we discussed disparities within the United States. Both of these classes weren’t just educational, they were very interesting and opened my eyes to minorities and the racial disparities minorities face.
What advice would you give to a Black high school student considering your major here at Rowan?
Just know that you are going to feel included. I want them to know that they will make friends, and they will be included and welcomed. My major in general is scary and it definitely is tough; however, you will have a support system behind you to help you navigate anything and everything.
Color really does not matter in the field that I am in and at the school I am at. Support is support, and I have met some of my best friends from being a RTF and Journalism double major here at Rowan. Whether a person is white, latino, Black… the people I am around support me 100% and I support them too.
My advice as I am leaving here is to simply make the best of it. Theres many instances where I wish I got involved with certain things sooner. For instance, with the Rowan Radio station, It was almost a full year that I waited before I even got involved with that. The people that I have met at the radio have become to be some of my favorite people that I get to talk to.
Get involved as much as you can because once the college experience is gone, it is gone.
What are your professional goals?
I have a few different future goals for myself. Short term and when I graduate, some of the jobs I have thought about pursuing was being a feature writer for an organization or maybe being a production assistant.
Long term, I aspire to be a journalist where I write and report history. I also have thought about being a director in the television industry. These goals are definitely things I aspire to reach in the future where I am currently looking more toward being a feature writer or work within production in some capacity.
If you are open to it, could you share a little about your Black heritage?
I am still learning my family history, but I do understand that my grandmother on my mom’s side is mixed and my grandfather is Black. I look forward to learning more about my heritage but I do know that I am Irish, Native American and Black.
How do you think Rowan has prepared you for your future endeavors? What do you hope to accomplish in the near future?
The opportunities that Rowan offers students are huge for preparing us for our future endeavors. Internships or opportunities to work as a lab research assistant are always offered and accessible to students. Professors are always willing to work with students too if someone needed an extension or some assistance with a particular assignment. The professors not only are extremely knowledgable, they care and want their students to succeed.
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