Over 400 students from 44 colleges in the Boston area descended on MIT’s campus to network with their peers and local community representatives as a part of the Boston Black Student Network’s “HollaDay VI: The Takeover” on Saturday afternoon.
The event, which began in 2003, aims to provide black students with opportunities to meet with business owners, non-profit organizations, and fraternities and sororities to enhance their social network off-campus and increase their post-graduate opportunities.
“If we get people jobs and help them while they’re here, they’ll stay here, especially if they have a social scene, a community, a family,” said BBSN Executive Director Jarell L. Lee ’10.
Lee said his vision in planning this year’s event was two-fold: creating a bridge among black college students, and between college students and the greater Boston community.
Saturday’s event featured a speech by Boston City Councillor Chuck Turner, a reading of a proclamation by Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons, and 15 tables with community representatives. The event also included entertainment by DJ Nix in the Mix of BET, eight talent acts, a dance competition, a step competition, and a raffle.
Justin R. Gerrard ’10, the founder of Mr. Livingston Clothing, said that the event provided him with the opportunity to advertise his new business.
“It is an excellent opportunity for us to reach not just people on campus but all over Boston,” he said. “People have been very receptive.”
Frank D. Hines ’85, the founder of Frank Hines Financial, said HollaDay allowed him to both learn from and help students.
“It’s about extending students the opportunity to rise above financial challenges,” he said. “I did Dorm Crew at Harvard—I have heart for students who have to work to survive.”
Representatives from the non-profits Boston 826, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and Boston Cares said they saw HollaDay as a forum to recruit volunteers.
The importance of HollaDay had particular resonance this year in light of Boston’s Commonwealth Compact, a community initiative to make Massachusetts a location of choice for people of color.
“We figure if people feel more comfortable in a place and enjoy it more they’ll stay,” Lee said. “If you connect students inside Boston to the community, after they graduate it will be harder to sever these ties.”