Student spotlight: Deborah Colimon

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One cheerful April morning, Deborah Colimon woke up and decided to buy her first house plant: she now owns 24 house plants, and treats them like they’re her children. As a student spotlight, Colimon shares her journey to Utah Valley University, her experiences here and why she believes it’s important to celebrate Black History Month. 

A sophomore at Utah Valley University, hailing from West Palm Beach in Florida, Colimon is studying psychology and autism. “I am a Hatian-American and the first granddaughter to be born in the states,” says Colimon. “I am also a first-generation college student.”

The attraction for Colimon to UVU was because she knew people who have gone here and loved it. “I don’t feel isolated here and I truly feel like I belong and have a place here,” she states. “There’s really a place for everyone no matter who they are or what interests they have.”

“Black History Month is truly essential. It is a time for us to highlight, acknowledge, and honor all the black men and women in this country who have overcome and contributed in the past and now,” says Colimon about the importance of this annual tradition. “Black history should be celebrated beyond the month of February: black history is American history and it should be taught and respected more.”

With the ongoing racial and political tension, Colimon expressed the importance of having support available to marginalized groups. “It’s important to have a community we can rely on,” says Colimon. “I would not be where I am today if I did not have the friends and support here that have become my other family.”

Colimon noted the African Diaspora Initiative and the Black Student Union at UVU are great resources for black students. “I have found so much support from the African Diaspora Initiative and the Black Student Union,” says Colimon. “It’s great because in a place like Utah County it’s incredibly easy for someone who looks like me to feel isolated and alone but having such an open and welcoming community has been so great for me.”

“This group is intended to be a safe space for open discussion and collaboration, for Black struggles and Black excellence,” says the mission statement for the BSU.

“I had a professor tell me to be proud of where my family is from and who I am,” shared Colimon, noting the importance of having a community to rely on at school. “My professors are really great and accommodating. They’re willing to help me in and outside of the classroom.”

“It’s easy to feel like we need to blend in or change things about ourselves to feel accepted by those who look different then us, but we don’t have to change anything,” she emphasized. “We should be proud of who we are and what we have to offer.” 

To learn more about Black History Month, you can visit the Fulton Library at UVU to browse music, films, books, and other literature about Black culture and arts.