Black History Month reflection: Allan Njomo, student body president

Author: Brown, Dennis

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As part of the University of Notre Dame’s observance of Black History Month, Allan Njomo, student body president, reflects on his experiences in this Q&A:

Can you fill us in on your background?

I am a senior studying business analytics. I was born and raised in Kenya but moved to Arlington, Texas, in 2009. In my time at Notre Dame, I’ve been heavily involved in Student Government and my dorm, Stanford Hall. 

What led you to consider and then enroll at Notre Dame?

My initial consideration of Notre Dame as an institution arose out of a dream to go to any college that would admit me. As I applied, I did not know much about our campus, but I was drawn by the balance of mind and spirit in both academics and social life. Upon visiting Notre Dame, it was the people who sold me on the experience. I met folks who not only gave up their time and energy to ensure I was learning about campus, but also empowered me to be myself throughout the process. 

What has your experience here been like — overall and as a Black student? 

Overall, I have enjoyed my experience here; I’ve grown in a lot of ways as a person. My posture when reflecting on the past four years has often been one of gratitude. Despite this, however, as a Black student I’ve also been exposed to the hardships of being a student in a predominantly white institution. These experiences are not unique to Notre Dame; I believe it’s just what happens when you bring people together from different backgrounds with different levels of understanding of race and ethnicity. As a result, I made it my passion to educate those around me as much as I could; however, that process can be exhausting. 

What kind of constructive criticism might you have when it comes to race relations on campus?

I’m afraid that as a campus we have gravitated toward complacency when it comes to race relations. This is aided by the small “victories” we may have accumulated in the past several years. We got a report on diversity, equity and inclusion from the Board of Trustees, we got MLK Day and we have an Executive Diversity Council; while these things are good, we cannot be complacent. There are a lot of students who are still struggling to call Notre Dame home because of their racial background, and we must continue to work until that is no longer the reality. 

In addition to Student Government, what other activities have you participated in? 

Beyond Student Government, I am involved in Young Life. In Young Life, I serve as a volunteer and facilitator for high school students in South Bend. I’ve taken this opportunity to be in Young Life as my avenue for plugging into the South Bend community. I get to be a friend, mentor and confidant to high school students through it, but most importantly, I get to share my faith with them. 

Why did you run for student body president? And, what are you proudest of as you near the end of your term?

I ran for student body president because I want to ensure everyone could feel as if this University was their home just like I did. It has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done but also the most rewarding. Looking back, I am happy to know we advocated for the full observation of MLK Day. While that may be what my presidency is “remembered” for, I am most proud of being able to work with people who are passionate about building a more beloved community here at Notre Dame. 

What’s on the horizon after graduation?

After graduating, I am moving into one of my other passions: health care. I’ll be working in the health care consulting segment of PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Dallas.