Under the air of the Harlem Renaissance, the Plattsburgh State chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants will showcase entrepreneurship at its fourth annual banquet tomorrow night in the Warren Ballrooms of the Angell College Center.
Senior hospitality management major and President of NABA Cheyene Richards said the club celebrates its peers every year with a banquet at the end of each academic year. Richards and the e-board chose the Harlem Renaissance theme to reflect entrepreneurship and the economic boom for the black community during that time.
“Because we are a club focused on black business students, we chose that theme, and we thought it went really well,” Richards said.
Thalia Campbell, sophomore finance major and NABA co-event planner, said, “We wanted to bring something to campus that would expose the products and business of young entrepreneurs to showcase work so they can gain more supporters.”
NABA Vice President and senior business administration and management major Malika James-Vassell said one of the banquet’s goals this year is host its own black-business expo, giving student entrepreneurs a chance to promote themselves.
“It’s just an event to help people on campus understand these entrepreneurs,” James-Vassell said. “We just wanted to make a space for them. It has been done before, but not at [such] an elegant event like this one.”
When it came to the types of decorations for the banquet, Campbell said she and her co-event planner were inspired by 1920s elements: feathers, pearls, jazz bands and black suits and ties.
NABA will also be hosting a People’s Choice Awards portion of its banquet. Richards said an initial survey asking for nominations of students who deserved awards was sent to the student body two weeks ago.
On Tuesday, the nominations were set in stone, and another survey was made for the student body to vote. Some of the categories will include: Best Smile, Most Active on Campus, Class Clown, Miss Fashionista, Cutest Couple and others.
The SUNY Plattsburgh Association of Black Journalists is assisting NABA for the event’s red carpet interviews, where PABJ will conduct interviews with attendees and ask them questions in front of fake cameras and microphones.
“They’re good with asking questions on cameras,” James-Vassell said.
In addition to an Italian buffet, complete with lasagna, chicken parmesan and alfredo, assorted cupcakes and mocktails, Richards said NABA also uses the banquet to “pass the torch” to members who will join the e-board next semester.
“Usually the night before is when we’re all reminiscent and joking,” Richards said. “I’m grateful for the team that we are. I think that in that moment we’re all just relieved that the event is happening and everything we’ve worked hard on is coming to fruition.”
While the club expects attendance from about 150 people this year, Richards also said the popularity of the event has grown in the past four years, as most of the e-board is graduating in May.
“A lot of us are leaving,” Richards said. “Four years ago, it was completely different.”
Senior business administration and management major Mahamadou Toure has been a member of NABA since his freshman year. Toure said watching the club grow from the beginning was his favorite part about his last banquet.
“Having our club be one of the most prominent clubs on campus, [it’s] not just because of who we are but how we cater to the whole campus,” Toure said. “Our club is not just for business but is a professionalism club.”
James-Vassell said her favorite part of hosting the banquet each year was setting up and seeing the reactions of people who come.
“We’re putting all our time and energy [in],” James-Vassell said. “After everything happens and everybody’s there, it’s like, ‘We did that.’ We all contributed to this in some little way, shape or form.”
Richards said the club hopes the black business expo portion of the event will show student entrepreneurs that their work doesn’t go unappreciated.
“We notice that in our community we need to support each other, especially when starting a business venture,” Richards said. “We want to encourage people to start their own businesses.”
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for Student Association members, $6 for non-SA and can be purchased at the information desk in the ACC or online at tickets.plattsburgh.edu.
Although the event focuses on entrepreneurs, James-Vassell said anyone and everyone is invited to help NABA celebrate PSUC’s student entrepreneurs, their talents and the end of a successful year.
“Even if you don’t own a business, you [can] just wanna come support and see who you can go to for this service on campus,” James-Vassell said. “You’re celebrating your friends.”