Black Men on the RISE Celebrates Success of Black Men at Penn State

On Friday night, more than 100 students, faculty/staff, and community members filled Heritage Hall for Black Student Union’s third annual Black Men on the RISE awards show. Unlike a typical awards show that gives awards for best dressed or best dancer, these awards went to Black men in the Penn State ┬ácommunity who have made a difference through leadership and volunteer initiatives.


Will Smart accepts his award during Black Men on the RISE. Photo Credit: Adriana Lacy

“I was very surprised the event went so well,” said Whitney Brown, president of Black Student Union. “I’m so glad the event was supported by so many friends, students, and the Black community at Penn State.”

With sounds from DJ Phlash a.k.a Kayode Oduwaiye, a Penn State student and awards recipient, the event was nothing short of entertaining. Throughout the night, along with the awards, there was singing, dancing, step performances and even spoken word.

In total, eleven awards were given out to Black men at Penn State across various disciplines and service areas. The first award of the night went to Marlon Moses, an executive member of the NAACP at Penn State and a mentor for the Youth Empowerment Program. Other notable awards went to Carlos Wiley, executive director of the Paul Robeson Cultural Center at Penn State; Will Smart, a junior at Penn State in the medical field who serves as a mentor for BLUEprint, a peer mentoring program for students of color, and a student in the Schreyer Honors College as well as a Paterno Fellow; and Maurice Smith, a PhD candidate at Penn State who helps to facilitate the Black/Latino Male Empowerment Group.

“Seek opportunity here at Penn State,” Smith said, offering advice as he accepted his award. “There are so many things that are happening at this university and you need to take advantage of them before you leave here.”

In addition to the Black Men on the RISE event, Black Student Union also puts on Black Women Rock, a similar awards show honoring Black women at Penn State. Each Black Women Rocks event features a special performance, such as last year when Chicago native Tink performed.

With these events, Black Student Union hopes to bring recognition to Black students at Penn State.

Full List of Award Recipients:

  • Marlon Moses
  • Matthew Johnson
  • Carlos Wiley
  • Maurice Smith
  • Cameron Spiller
  • Kayode Oduwiye
  • Malachi Burden
  • Jeff Etienne
  • Ervin Merone
  • Will Smart

You can check out all the photos from the event here.