Minority Roundtable

This roundtable features Jacob Thomas, Akhil Mudiogonda, Anusha Vora, Estafania Narvarez, Yaser Salamah and Sydney Rojas


Will Zimmerman, Online Managing Editor

Welcome Demon Deacons. First, allow me to congratulate you. Even if you don’t know it yet, you’re right where you should be. While it’s true that the freshman experience can feel daunting and lonely at times, rest assured that you are not alone — there are other students who have been in your shoes and cannot wait to welcome you into their circles.At Wake Forest, there are over 240 student organizations, including groups organized around religions, races, and ethnicities, too. Chances are, no matter where you come from or what you believe in, there’s a community of like-minded students who have already spent weeks preparing for your arrival and are planning all sorts of activities to make you feel at home, even if you’re really, really far from home.

Becoming involved in one of these organizations can provide a sense of familiarity and comfort, an opportunity to celebrate those holidays most meaningful to you, and the peace of mind that comes with knowing that there are other students here at Wake Forest who can relate to your experiences. But don’t take my word for it.

Here, we have gathered voices from various minority groups around campus. We were interested in learning if and how being a member of a minority group has affected their personal experience at Wake Forest, and about the role their involvement in the organization has played in their experience, too. We also asked about which organizational events they are most excited about, and how new students can get involved, among other things.

These individuals had so many great things to say, but we only had so much room on this one page. If you are interested in hearing a more in depth discussion about the experiences of these individuals, or what it’s like to be a member of one of these minority groups, we invite you to scan the QR code at the bottom of this page — doing so will take you to the Old Gold & Black’s youtube channel where you can watch the roundtable discussion in its entirety. 

Thank you to all of those individuals who participated in and helped to organize this project, we couldn’t have put this together without you.


OGB Exec


How has being a member of a minority group impacted your Wake Forest experience?

Jacob Thomas: Being Black has nuanced my experience and influenced the spaces where I feel most comfortable on campus. I have had the opportunity to build relationships with my peers who can relate to my experience, and my passion for building connections among members of the Black community on campus has charged me with making Wake Forest a place that operates with increased equity and supports its Black students.

Akhil Mudiogonda: Being at Wake Forest has pushed me to educate others about the diverse and profound nature of the Indian culture and religion and the importance of eliminating prejudice and misinformation.

Sydney Rojas: For me, Hillel is important to be a part of because it is such a judgment-free, welcoming environment that feels like home away from home. No matter how religious you are, or how involved you want to be, you can always rely on Hillel as a place to go.

Yaser Salamah: By giving me a community of people who share my beliefs, my experiences, and who I can come to in times of grief and times of joy. The MSA has been a safe space for me, and it has nurtured not only my Islam, but also my education and my mental health and my relationships. I don’t know how I would have gotten through Wake without the MSA.

Estefania Narvaez: Being a member of OLAS has helped me grow both professionally and personally. I have developed into an awesome individual and learned to appreciate where I come from thanks to OLAS and the people in it. I have been to excel academically, immerse myself more in my culture, and have learned to appreciate the meaning of diversity and inclusion.

Anusha Vora: Because of the smaller population of South Asian students at Wake, I have actually really enjoyed the close-knit community that has formed as a result. The upperclassmen were such role models to me last year, and I loved how homey this group of people felt to me during my first time away from home. I have gained a whole new group of friends and people to guide me academically and socially through my first year and going forward.

What have you gained from your involvement in your group?

Thomas: BSA provides a particularly unique opportunity for members of the Black community to connect at a PWI. Building community and fellowship in this capacity allows for many students to feel an increased sense of belonging on campus. At a place like Wake Forest, that sense of community and belonging is invaluable because it gives students a system of support. Getting involved with BSA is a great way to begin establishing connections at Wake. Additionally, some BSA events facilitate personal development in terms of networking or leadership initiative.

We have a few annual events such as Celebration of the Black Experience, Celebration of the Black Arts and Celebration of Black Excellence.

Mudiogonda: Personally, the HSA has served as a great way to meet people of a similar cultural background, and also provided me the opportunity to educate others about the traditions and customs of Hinduism. I have been able to find like-minded individuals and also enjoy celebrations at Wake Forest similar to how I would at home.

Throughout the semester, HSA holds events for various Hindu celebrations such as Holi, Diwali. These are typically accompanied by traditional and tasty Indian cuisine, and great music as well.

What kind of events does your group put on during the semester?

Rojas: We have weekly Shabbat dinners at 6 p.m., and will have various events from time to time. Shabbat dinners are great, they give you the chance to unwind, catch up with your friends and eat free food that is not from the Pit!

Salamah: Every Friday, MSA and Muslim Life hold a Jum’ah, a Friday Prayer service, from the MSA Lounge. We also have Islam Awareness Week every spring semester, where a full week of campus wide events and activities occurs. For the next 25 years or so, Ramadan will also happen on campus, and as such, we have and will hold Iftar dinners on campus and may offer Tarawih nightly prayers as well. We also have lots of fun social events — prior to COVID we used to have game nights and movie nights on and off campus, and even a Super Bowl watch party, as well as joint events with BSU, Hillel and AAP to name a few.

Vora: SASA has at least one event every month where members spend time with each other and eat South Asian food from local restaurants. We have two larger functions where we celebrate holidays such as Eid, Diwali and Holi. These are very fun and are heavily participated in by the whole school and not just by our community groups.

Narvaez: Besides casual dinners, student activities and other paired events, OLAS has one main event each semester during the school year. We celebrate Latinx Heritage Month where we have our biggest formal alongside other fun activities. During the spring, we celebrate Latinx Awareness Week where we also host an event along with delicious food and other culture paired events with other organizations on campus.

How can freshmen become involved?

Thomas: First-years can find our events posted on Instagram @wfu_bsa. Any important information regarding upcoming news and events will likely be shared there. Additionally, there is a weekly listserv that sends updates via email (we will have a form to sign up at the involvement fair)

Mudiogonda: Freshmen can look out for posters/flyers regarding HSA and meet us at the involvement fair. We will have fresh samosas available!

Rojas: Just show up! The door to the Hillel lounge is always (figuratively) open, so stop by for a Shabbat meal, welcome event, etc. We are also having a Welcome Back Ice Cream Social on Tuesday, August 24 from 3-5 p.m. so make sure to stop in the Hillel backyard (behind Collins residence hall)! Our first shabbat will be on Friday, August 27 at 6 p.m. in Collins A001 (the Hillel lounge)!

Salamah: Just by showing up and getting added to the GroupMe and/or email listserv, freshmen will be in the loop on all MSA activities! All our events are open to all undergrad Muslim students and we encourage all Muslim folks — regardless of sect, gender, sexuality, race, religiosity, etc. — to join us for any event they feel they would enjoy!

Vora: Come to a function or meeting! Anyone is welcome. Once you get to any SASA event, we can add you to the email list/GroupMe. All of the members want to meet you and are looking forward to a year full of in person events. Also, you can follow us on Instagram @wfusasa or reach out to me at [email protected].

Narvaez: Social media! Our Instagram is @olaswfu. If you want to be added to the GroupMe or listserv, please reach to me (Estefania) at [email protected] so you can be added and keep up with any OLAS updates and/or events. I will be leading a program for incoming freshmen so please stay tuned!


We could only include so many voices on this one page, but there are many, many more organizations and groups at Wake Forest you can become involved in. At The Link’s webpage (https://wfu.campuslabs.com/engage/organizations) you can find a full list of the organizations at Wake Forest as well as upcoming events around campus. 

Here is a link to watch the roundtable discussion in its entirety: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JA_7FxrU9Kk