Get to Know Ashanti Ford '24, MLK Campus-Wide Celebration Week Planning Committee Member!

Image of Ashanti Ford. Ashanti is wearing a white button down shirt and glasses and is looking directly at the camera.

Ashanti Ford is a First Generation college student and is a senior in the School of Humanities where she double majors in Sociology & Psychology with a minor in Counseling in pursuit of becoming a Forensic Social Worker post graduation. While attending IC, she is also the President of the Students of the Caribbean Association (SOCA) and active in many other Cultural & Identity based organizations on campus. She works at the BIPOC Unity Center as a Peer Educator while serving on the Planning Committee that made the MLK Campus-Wide Celebration Week come to life. Ashanti is passionate about advocating for others and the this year's theme "Amplifying Womxn's Voices" resonates with her to the fullest.

Check out this Q&A with Ashanti Ford to learn more about her involvement with the planning committee and what to look forward to during the upcoming MLK Campus-Wide Celebration Week.

How did you become involved with the MLK Campus-Wide Celebration Planning?

I had been connected with the BIPOC Unity Center, working as a Peer Educator for the Center and serving as a liaison with some of our student organizations on campus and was asked if I had interest in serving on the planning committee for this year’s celebration. It has been a great experience getting to work behind the scenes on the exciting programming and events that are planned for this year. I have really enjoyed contributing my perspective as a student and having my thoughts and ideas infused into the events this year. Whether it be contributing to the types of questions for our panelist discussion, or changing around the format for some of the events this year to be more interactive and engaging for students, it has been exciting to be able to contribute to something so important and impactful!

Tell me about this year’s theme, “Amplifying the Voices of Womxn of Color.” What meaning and significance does that hold for you?

Being a woman of color, this year’s celebration theme certainly holds an added significance for me and something I can really align with on a person level. Speaking generally, womxn often are overshadowed and their voices and accomplishments not recognized on equal measure. This is especially true for womxn of color, who played and continue to play such a critical role in elevating the efforts towards equal representation and to end injustice. It brings me great excitement to be able to shine a spotlight on Coretta Scott King and many other leaders, past and present, that have contributed their own unique legacies. These amazing womxn of color have been such an inspiration to me and so many others and the legacy of MLK certainly would not be what it is today without the work of these womxn leaders. I’m so happy we are going to be able to highlight them.  

What event are you most looking forward to during this year’s celebration?

I’m really looking forward to our keynote presentation with Ithaca College alums Eden Strachan and Cyepress Rite on Thursday, February 15 (4:00 PM in Emerson Suites). Despite being just recent graduates from Ithaca College they have already accomplished so much and are making such an impact in their advocacy. I have had the opportunity to engage with some of the programs coordinated by Eden’s foundation and how they have empowered and influenced me as a young woman of color. The work of these young leaders, and the fact that they both are former IC students, really fills me with inspiration and hope as my time as an IC student is getting close to end.

I can’t wait to participate in the presentation and see how engaging and interactive it will be. You definitely will not want to miss it!

Are there any other events that you are really excited about?

I am really looking forward to the Dance Workshop event that we are hosting in collaboration with the Island Fusion and Pulse Hip-Hop dance groups on Friday, February 16 (6:00 PM in Job Hall #161). It has been exciting working with the two organizations in my role as a liaison with the student orgs. It has really been amazing seeing the two different groups that have such differences in styles come together to work collaboratively on this event. It’s really going to be a fun event regardless of if you have experience with dance or not. You will get up, get moving, learn a really cool dance, and I think it will just be a really great way to end the week.

What is your advice to a student who may be interested in getting involved, but isn’t sure where to begin?

I really encourage students to make a point to come into the BIPOC Unity Center on the third floor of the Campus Center as a great first step. The Center hosts such a wide variety of programs throughout the year and there are always students and professional staff there that are happy to chat and help you connect with other students and organizations that fit with your interests. I know it can sometimes be intimidating to put yourself out there, but don’t be afraid to show up to an event or even just swing by the Center because there are so many that are excited to make that connection and are here to support your journey.

What is your final message to students prior to MLK Celebration Week?

I really encourage everyone to come out this year and try to attend as many events as you can. I really feel like we’ve planned some really amazing and engaging programs and there is something there that anyone can take from it, regardless of your identity or background. It’s going to be a wonderful opportunity to bring our entire campus community together.

This is my last MLK Celebration Week as an undergrad student and really the first one we have been to celebrate to its full potential since COVID, I’m really just looking forward to seeing all the hard work and planning come to fruition and getting to connect with so many of you.