The Black Alumni Association of Arcadia University (BAAAU) promotes the presence, empowerment, and success of Arcadia Black alumni, students, faculty, staff, and community members through professional, educational, social, and networking programs, as well as through philanthropic support and opportunities.
BAAAU serves as an advocacy organization for Black Arcadia alumni by fostering a sense of pride and commitment to the University. Upon graduation, all Black alumni automatically become part of the BAAAU family.
- serves as a unifier amongst Black Arcadia University alumni and Arcadia University to encourage and enhance opportunities for Black alumni to foster personal and professional networks
- provides support for current Black Arcadia University students through mentorship and networking opportunities
- acknowledges the legacy, contributions, and accomplishments of Black Arcadia alumni
- to support the University’s efforts to recruit and retain a diverse faculty, staff, and student population
- guides students as they navigate and overcome obstacles throughout their academic career at Arcadia University and beyond
Events & Meetings
Contribute to the BAAAU Preview Travel Support Program
Committed to equity in the Arcadia student experience, BAAAU established the Preview Support Program, designed specifically for low-income Black students attending Arcadia University. BAAAU would like to ensure full participation in Arcadia’s Preview program (link to preview page) by students who would otherwise be unable to take advantage of this program’s richness. On behalf of these students, BAAAU asks members of the Arcadia community to consider helping all students participate in Preview.
In 2017, 5 percent of Black students participated in Preview; in 2018, participation rose to 6.5 percent. By 2019, because of donor support, student participation had risen to 8.7 percent. BAAAU aims to support 10 students annually, but we need your help.
Your generous contributions will go a long way to enable a memorable, life-changing, educational experience. Donations can be made online or sent by mail to:
Meet Your BAAAU Alumni Leaders
David Euwings ’06
A native of South Philadelphia, a graduate of Overbrook High School and Arcadia University (2006), David has constantly strived for success in his career by using his life experiences as constant motivation. His ingrained mantra, what he instills in his mentees, is “Life is short, decisions are long”; everything you do creates a potential path in your life – the decisions you make matter not just today, but for your future. David is a proud member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., currently serving as the Delaware State Director, and serves the Alumni Association of Arcadia University as a member of the Leadership Council and Chair of the Nominations Committee.
David believes in the life principle, that you should “Enjoy Life because Life should be fun!” It is this, along with his mantra, that drives David to be the best version of himself every day and experience as much happiness in this world as possible.
Sonya Gaskins ’02
As a lifelong Philadelphia, PA resident, Sonya’s affiliation with Arcadia University began as being a part of the Beaver-Leeds Scholars program. After earning a degree in Political Science, she began her career in public service with the City of Philadelphia. For the past 17 years, she has served in numerous roles; currently acting as an Administrative Officer for the Department of Human Services. In addition to being a fan of Arcadia, Sonya is a loyal Philadelphia Eagles fan-Go Birds.
Latasha is married to Allen Shears III and together they raise their children, Allen and Tori. She is passionate about helping others which is rooted in Christian principles of forgiveness, community, and love. Latasha commands a lifestyle complete with God’s blessings, joy, compassion for others, and free from negativity. Her hobbies include reading, watching television/movies, listening to music, spending time with family and friends, and traveling.
Reverend Victor Gimenez ’93
Community Co-Chair (Service)
Reverend Victor Gimenez has been married for 25 years to Yvette Gimenez. Victor and Yvette have three children Ajani, Esaias and Damaris. Reverend Victor is a bi-vocational Pastor. He currently works at Covenant House PA, which serves homeless and displaced youth. He is also the lead Pastor for two churches: Union Memorial UMC and Clifton Height UMC. Reverend Victor Gimenez has worked in social services for over 30 years in Philadelphia. Reverend Victor graduated from Arcadia University where he received his BA in psychology. He also received his MA in Urban Studies from Eastern University and his Masters in Divinity from Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia.
Karen Marie Williams ’01
Community Co-Chair (School)
Karen is currently a Literacy Coach & School Equity Leader for the School District of Philadelphia. She is passionate about community service, advocacy, and developing relationships through mentoring programs. Karen is excited to serve on the Community Service Committee for BAAAU and is dedicated to enhancing the black student experience at Arcadia and enhancing our VOICE on campus and within the larger community.
Karen M. Oliver ’11
I Started my Beaver/ Arcadia journey one class at a time working full time and raising a family. I love to travel and have traveled to countries on six continents to live, or for work or pleasure. I believe everyone needs to see the world and experience all the wonders it has to offer, and the world needs to experience you! It truly gives all a broader perspective on life.
Dr. Latasha Shears ’01
Dr. Latasha Shears is a Philadelphia native, author, researcher, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. Latasha’s professional background includes 20 years of experience managing grant portfolios for the federal government, nonprofit sector, and higher education. In 2018, she joined the Office of Head Start in the Administration for Children & Families, Department of Health & Human Services where she oversees $2 billion dollars in federal funding for over 70,000 children and families across Region III.
Dr. Shears earned her EdD in Education, Leadership & Management from Drexel University. She also holds two master’s degrees from Temple University in Public Health Education and Organizational Development, and a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Arcadia University (Class of 2001, Honors Program).
Elijah Wilson ’20
Black Student Experience Chair
Elijah Wilson currently is a Policy Associate at the Roosevelt Institute a progressive policy Think Tank. At the Roosevelt Institute he runs multiple projects and activities, including management of student policy coordinators and student policy projects and coordination of student engagement workshops, annual events, and community resources.
Before joining the Roosevelt Institute, he worked at a local educational nonprofit in the city of Philadelphia, ensuring that children within the Philadelphia School District had a range of after-school activities that would keep them safe, engaged, inspired, and passionate about learning. Wilson earned a certification of completion from American University (Washington Semester) with an emphasis on campaigns and elections and politics in 2017. He also earned a BA in Political Science with a minor in Africana studies from Arcadia University.
Aliyah Abraham ’17
BAAAU Founder & Former President
Aliyah Abraham ’17 has contributed significantly to Arcadia University as a recent graduate, including the visioning and founding of the Black Alumni Association, bringing to life the Black Alumni Association’s Preview Travel Support Program which philanthropically supports Black student participation in attending one of Arcadia’s signature study away programs, and working to launch the University’s Knights for Nutrition food pantry.
Aliyah also serves on the Strategic Planning Committee of the Alumni Association Advisory Council and advocates for students and alumni alike on the University’s Justice-Equity-Diversity-and-Inclusion Commission. Aliyah is the 2021 recipient of the Black Alumni Association’s Sankofa Award and is an active philanthropist, mentor, and leader who tirelessly shares her time, vision, and talent with the Arcadia community.
The Sankofa Award for Distinguished Achievement
BAAAU presents the Sankofa Award for Distinguished Achievement annually during Alumni Reunion Week. Recipients are Arcadia University graduates of African-American/African diaspora descent who exemplify the spirit of Sankofa. This award is presented to a deserving graduate in recognition of their significant professional accomplishments, as well the contributions they have made in mentoring and social justice activism in the African American/African diaspora community, which greatly enhance the prestige of Arcadia University.
Past Sankofa Award recipients
2021: Aliyah Abraham ’17
Aliyah Abraham ’17 has contributed significantly to Arcadia University, including the visioning and founding of the Black Alumni Association, bringing to life the Black Alumni Association’s Preview Travel Support Program and the University’s Knights for Nutrition food pantry. Aliyah also serves on the Strategic Planning Committee of the Alumni Association Advisory Council and advocates for students and alumni alike on the University’s Justice-Equity-Diversity-and-Inclusion Commission.
2020: Zyhkeya Waller-Young ’99
Zyhkeya Waller-Young ’99 received her B.A. in Psychology from Arcadia University and serves as director of Children’s Enhanced Outpatient Programs at The Consortium, a mental health services provider. Waller-Young is the founder of Business Bestiez Pro Academy, a business consulting company that provides female entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs the tools and resources necessary to succeed in business.
2019: Candace L. Griffin ’13M
Candace has been extensively involved with the Greater Washington Urban League Thursday Network, a community service and civic engagement organization with a mission to provide a forum for young adults to focus on community service, professional development, and political involvement. During her first term as membership chair with the Network, she successfully increased membership by 71%.
2018: Octavius Blount ’15
Octavius currently serves as the Coordinator for the Mayor’s Office of Black Male Engagement, aligning resources and initiatives with a specific goal to reduce disparities between economic and social outcomes of Black men and boys. In all that he does, he commits to being a role model, mentor, pathfinder, or resource to guide the youth of all races to a future that reflects their passion and skills.