On May 14, I along with 15 other students from Howard University, made the journey to Salt Lake City, Utah to start a summer program sponsored by a Howard University and David Eccles School of Business partnership. Every Saturday since then, I have been helping to plan fun events for us to attend. This partnership was designed to give Howard students a unique experience that showcases what the West has to offer in hopes of us moving to Salt Lake to help diversify the city.
On Saturday, June 12 at 6 p.m., U Alum Zachary Smith opened his home to host a dinner to connect us with the Black community. The guest list consisted of more than 50 people made up of CEOs, executives, entrepreneurs, church officials, the NAACP, the Black chamber, the Dean of David Eccles School of Business, prospective Howard students, current Howard students, and family.
We laughed, ate great food, and made meaningful connections.
The food was catered by Miss Essie’s Southern BBQ. The owner, Marcus Jones, prepared a table of delicious macaroni and cheese, green beans, ribs, barbecue chicken, and of course a dinner roll. As a North Carolina native, it was refreshing to have a taste of home. Even though I was stuffing my face with comfort food, I was still able to connect with a plethora of people at the event. As a recent graduate who is considering moving to Salt Lake City, I appreciated meeting so many people who looked like me in a place where Black people make up less than 2% of the population. They were all amazing people and gave me great advice to help with my decision-making process.
As the night progressed and the sun went down, Zach pulled out his movie screen and projector so everyone could watch the Utah Jazz destroy the LA Clippers in Game 3 of the conference semifinals. Unfortunately, that is not what happened; the Clippers beat us by 26 points. Having been to a couple of playoff games, I am a newly converted Jazz fan so that hurt a little, but it did not stop the fun.
We continued to fellowship, eat, and party in the backyard. All good things must come to an end though, and around 9:30 p.m., the attendees started trickling out and the event ended.
The owners of the house were so gracious to host the event and even invited us to come back over whenever just to hang out! Since then I have connected with some of the people I met and went back to the Smiths’ house with a couple of other interns to go for a swim.
It was a wonderful experience, and I look forward to having more events like this in the future.
Simone Lawrence is a December 2020 graduate of Howard University and a participant in the partnership between the David Eccles School of Business and Howard University to bring Howard students and recent grads to Utah to engage in internships and explore the state.