China Gross, '20

Name: China Gross

Year: Junior

Major: Social Relations & Policy; English

Minors: African-American and African Studies

Hometown: Detroit, Michigan  

 

What are some of the organizations you are involved in at MSU and why do you think they are important?

I am currently active in five on-campus organizations: The W.E.B. DuBois Society, ASMSU (as College of Arts & Letters representative), James Madison College Student Senate, JMC Womxn of Color Initiative and Black Undergraduate Law Association.

The W.E.B. DuBois Society is an organization hosted by students at James Madison College at Michigan State University. The W.E.B. DuBois Society fosters awareness around public policy and the lived experiences of African Americans and members of the African Diaspora. Members of the W.E.B. DuBois Society hope to advance DuBois’ educational vision through social and academic meetings, workshops, and conferences. 

James Madison College Student Senate intends to increase interaction between students, faculty and alumni within James Madison College.

The mission of the JMC Womxn of Color Initiative is to aid Womxn of Color within the James Madison College community though mentorship, scholarship, networking and service to create and maintain social change. The Women of Color Coalition prides itself on mentorship, community service and student engagement with guest speakers and/or faculty and staff of color.

The purpose of Black Undergraduate Law Association is to promote educational, professional and political excellence for black students interested in law. This organization hopes to uplift students of color by providing them with resources, networking connections and a sense of community within a predominantly white institution.

JMC Senate Social Relations & Policy Caucus

 

How do you think your unique experiences have shaped the way you look at issues facing marginalized groups in college?

My freshman year at MSU was filled with experiences that shaped me into the advocate I am today. I graduated from a predominantly Black unfunded charter school (located in Southfield, MI) and I am also a first generation student, so when I came to State I had no idea what I was doing academically since I was poorly prepared. I was placed on academic probation my first semester, which left me debating if college was for me. While struggling academically I was also facing racism in my residential hall — there were constant threats left on my door for being a BLM supporter. Once I was able to find the proper resources to aid me in my college transition I told myself I would never stand by and let other students go through the same hardships.  

 

You recently lead the College of Arts and Letters Student of Color Initiative open meeting with the support of Dean Long, as well as Sandra Logan and Triniti Watson that invited faculty and students to discuss the climate, investment, and support of students of color in the College of Arts and Letters. What were some of the reasons you saw a need for the CAL student of color initiative, and what are the goals of the initiative?

My sophomore year English faculty member Tamar Boyadjian and others organized a student of color initiative for our department. After attending this meeting I found out not only were students feeling unrepresented within curriculum and spaces, but so were faculty. With my new position as the ASMSU CAL Representative I felt it was my responsibility to establish this organization. The goal of the CALSOCI is to find out what students of color, paying the same amount per credit as their white counterparts, needed from the College to adequately feel their degree reflected and promoted diversity.

Womxn of Color Co-founders Charlaine Stevenson (left) and China Gross (right)  

 

You are the person of contact for volunteering for the 2019 MSU Race Conference discussing “Race in 21st century America: Race, Democracy & Socialism” which is an accomplishment in itself. What advice would you give to other women of color who want more leadership roles at Michigan State?

The most important piece of advice I have for other women of color on campus looking for leadership roles is to be UNAPOLOGETICALLY YOU! At a PWI like MSU these organizations need you more than you will ever need them since they lack the experiences, knowledge and the ability a woman of color gains over time. You are never too loud, ghetto, hood, aggressive, problematic or sassy to be the face of this campus. If you want an opportunity on this campus — take it. If it’s not available — create it.

 

What has been one of the most rewarding experiences you have had at MSU and why?

The ability to study abroad has to be my best and most rewarding experiences at MSU. As a child I thought I would only see places like London, Paris, Amsterdam, Germany and Brussels on TV. The experiences on my study abroads, whether good or bad, will live in my heart forever, especially with knowing I am the first of my family to gain this blessing. If I can encourage students of color to do anything it would be to study abroad and embrace a new culture.

Black Undergraduate Law Association co-founders (left to right): China Gross & Rachel Cleveland  

 

What impact do you want to have on others in the MSU community?

I want to impact students to change what they cannot accept. As the campus grows more diverse (whatever that means to MSU) I want more voices on the mainstage. Change only comes when we demand it, and follow through on our protest until we get it.

 

What do you want to do after graduation?

After graduation I plan to attend law school; my dream schools are Cornell and Berkeley. After law school I hope to work towards my future occupation of becoming an elected official. 

W.E.B. Du Bois Society (left to right): Gia Toler, China Gross, Tylor Collier.