African American Affairs’ new director seeks to build community

African American Affairs recently welcomed BalenciaSariah Crosby as its new director. And she has big plans for the organization. 

Crosby attended North Harris Community College in Houston and decided to attend grad school at Minnesota State University, Mankato to become a resource for students. 

Crosby took over the position after the departure of Kenneth Reid at the end of last year. 

“This opportunity opened up beautifully for me to get that experience beyond the classroom side and be more on the side of student services and student support,” Crosby said. 

Crosby said one of her main goals this year is building community and stitching any gaps that may remain. She explained she doesn’t want students to feel like they’re floating by in college, but to have students feel connected. 

“There’s community here and there was community before I got here and Covid played an interesting role in redefining and setting those boundaries of the community,” Crosby said. “I’d like to shed a light on that community so others can see ‘oh, they’re doing something cool and I want to be involved with it.’”

In order to build community, Crosby has a multitude of events planned for the spring semester including Africa Night, the Pan African Conference and the Ebony Ball. So far, Crosby’s favorite event was On&Poppin’s inaugural event which fostered community by building pasta and marshmallow structures.

“Some students came with their friends and I said ‘OK, let’s break up some of these silos. I want to challenge you all to work with others,’” Crosby said. “The event was silly, but it got the room talking and going.”

Crosby said she considers her job as a bunch of different roles ranging from mentoring, advising and individual rapport building between her and students. Crosby said she intends to put herself in places where she can show her space to other students. 

She encourages students to stop by her office in the Multicultural Center in CSU 269 as one of the ways students can get involved with AAA.

“This office is open and welcoming for students and their needs to come in and share that space and time with me. I want them to get comfortable visiting with me so when they see me outside of the office, we can talk more,” Crosby said. 

Another goal of Crosby’s is listening to students’ suggestions. Crosby explained that it’s important to learn their interests to gain students’ trust.

“I think if the students can trust me and that I’m here to support them, I might be able to start mentoring,” Crosby said. “Some students move through that process quicker than others, but I’m here to help them work on it.”

Crosby said she hopes to bring authenticity to MSU and AAA as she goes forward in her new role. 

“I want people to know that when I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to deal with it as soon as possible. When it comes down to the betterment of my students in an individual community, I definitely want to champion and push that forward,” Crosby said. “You’ve got to take care of yourself and others.”

Header Photo: The new AAA director resides in the offices of the Multicultural Center in the Cenntenial Student Union room 269. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)

Write to Emma Johnson at

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