Interim Director

  • Riana Howard, MSW

    Riana Howard, MSW

    Hello (:

    My name is Riana Howard, she/her pronouns, and I am the new Interim Director for the African American Resource & Cultural Center (AARCC). I am so excited to work with, collaborate with, and meet all of you. I am originally from San Diego, CA, and also spent my summers in Oakland, CA growing up. I was a transfer student and received my bachelor’s in Human Communications and my master’s in Social Work, MSW. My work is rooted in educational equity practices and assisting in breaking down systematic barriers in the educational system. I strive to help cultivate a sense of belonging for ABC students and be a great support for the ABC community. I am excited to meet all of you and would be honored to be apart of your educational journey as well. If you would like to connect with Riana, please reach out at rihoward@ucsc.edu.  


  • ABC Retention Specialist

  • Shannel Joseph

    Shannel Joseph

    Thanks for stopping by to read a short bio about me! My name is Shannel Joseph and I am serving as the Interim ABC Retention Specialist for the African American Resource and Cultural Center. I am originally from Los Angeles CA (I grew up in many areas, specifically, South Central and Inglewood). I am Afro Latin, with family who come from Central America (Belize and Guatemala). Some fun facts about me is that I LOVE food, music (Ari Lennox & Rhianna are my favs), art, kayaking, hiking and cooking. I am part of the Banana Slug Alum Club, graduating from UCSC in 2017 with my degree in Psychology from OAKESSSS College. In my role, I plan to work to ensure success for all ABC students through community building, mentorship, and programming. I am very grateful to have the opportunity to work closely with the ABC student population which has been a community I've been wanting to give back to for the longest. I look forward to meeting with you all this academic year! <3
    If you would like to connect, please reach out at stjoseph@ucsc.edu. 

  • Program Coordinator

  • Melissa Chimwaza

    Melissa Chimwaza

    Hello Everybody! 

    My name is Melissa Chimwaza and I am the Program Coordinator for the African American Resource and Cultural Center. I am dedicated to the planning and execution of programs that will engage, inspire and uplift UCSC’s African/Black/Caribbean students. I graduated from UCLA which now makes me a Banana Bruin! Since I am new to Santa Cruz, I am eager to build community and work with students to create the programs and systems that will best serve them. Despite the current limitations to meet on campus, AARCC is still committed to its ABC Community and I am still available to provide hollistic support and care. If you would like to connect, please reach out to me through my email at mchimwaz@ucsc.edu

    In Peace & Power!


  • Graduate Student Intern

  •  Breanna Byrd

    Breanna Byrd

    Hey there, My name is Breanna Byrd and I'm a second-year graduate student in Feminist Studies. I'm originally from Durham, North Carolina, and always ready to talk about the South I study narratives of world-ending/world-making centering black womxn’s stories and practices of care. I joined the AARCC’s team in order to help continue to support African, Black, Caribbean identifying graduate students as they navigate UCSC. I also want hope to be able to connect graduate students to each other and to the resources offered through the AARCC. I enjoy dancing, finding random places to do handstands, geeking out over sci-fi, creative writing, and diving down research related rabbit-holes.

  • F.R.E.D. Student Coordinator

  • Victoria Akinsanya

    Victoria Akinsanya

    Hello, my name is Victoria Akinsanya (she/her) and I am a proud first generation Nigerian-American, specifically Yoruba. I am a third year Business Management Economics and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies double major. This is my second year as the program coordinator for the Facilitators for Racial and Ethnic Diversity (F.R.E.D.) Program and I'm really excited about getting to continue working towards improving campus climate for ABC students by facilitating conversations on race, ethnicity, and gender with student staff across campus. I love working at the African American Resource and Cultural Center because it has helped me find community, friendship, and work that I love which has redefined my UCSC experience. Please feel free to reach out if you ever want to ask about FRED, or just to chat about random things like outdoor backpacking, music, Nigeria, the majors I'm in, or the freedom of not having to use GPS to get around, etc. vakinsan@ucsc.edu


  • AARCCivist Committee

  • Zoe Corella

    Zoe Corella

    My name is Zoe and I am a fourth year Sociology GISES major and a Black Studies minor. I am affiliated with OOAAAKKESSS and I am a Peer Educator at CAPS and a Student Program Coordinator at AARCC. I am a type-A organization enthusiast, and I love exploring the intersection between tradition and innovation. I am extremely grateful to start my third year here at AARCC and continue to serve the ABC community. I feel deeply connected to programming and events that highlight the intersection between Queerness, Blackness and Latinidad, and I strive to create more spaces that celebrate the Afro-Latin connection. 
    If you ever see me around the world wide web please don't hesitate to reach out and say hi or ask about resources zcorella@ucsc.edu.   

  • Fiscal Committee

  • Jasmine Banks

    Jasmine Banks

    Hi everyone!
    My name is Jasmine Banks (she/her) and I serve as one of the Student Program Coordinators for the African American Resource and Cultural Center. I am in my fourth and final year here at UCSC double majoring in Psychology and Critical Race & Ethnic Studies. I started working for AARCC during my second year and I have been so grateful to be able to serve the community while also being able to connect with so many amazing people. I am really passionate about the liberation and uplifting of ABC folx and hope to do research in the future regarding mental health in our communities. Please don't ever hesitate to reach out :)


  • Media Committee

  • Ryleigh Hales

    Ryleigh Hales

    Hi everyone, my name is Ryleigh Hales and I use she/her pronouns. I’m a fourth year Biochemistry & Molecular Biology major. I’m from Sacramento, California, home of the state capital and sometimes a president. I transferred to UCSC in Fall of 2019, this is my second (and LAST) year at UCSC. This is my second year working for AARCC, I am currently on the marketing team and in charge of the AARCC twitter (@UCSCAARC), give us a follow to stay updated with AARCC events and giveaways throughout the year!  I am a member of the BSU & BWA so look for me there! I am also apart of the team currently working to reboot BBQ (Black Beautiful Queer). I joined the AARCC because I wanted to become more involved with the ABC community and connect with all of the intersectional individuals that make up our community! So if you ever need anything feel free to reach out at rhales@ucsc.edu.


  • Nailah Smith

    Nailah Smith

    Hey everyone my name is Nailah she/her pronouns, I am a Media Intern with AARCC and I run the Instagram page. I am a first year Computer Science Game Design major and Stevenson college affiliate. Some of my hobbies include sketching portraits, roller skating, making desserts, listening to RnB music, eating street tacos, and caring for my cacti and succulent babies! I am involved with Stevenson Student Council and I am the Stevenson rep for SCOC, along with being apart of BWA and BCM. I started the group Melanin UCSC which is a safe space for all African, Black, and Caribbean identifying students to connect. Follow us on Instagram to stay up to date with social activities @UCSC_Melanin and follow the AARCC Instagram page @UCSC_AARCC to learn more about resources and upcoming events. If you have questions for me specifically or just want to reach out feel free to email me at nsmith7@ucsc.edu (:
  • Shaye Paysinger

    Shaye Paysinger

    What’s good y’all, my name is Shaye, I use they/them pronouns, and I’m a second year politics major from Vallejo, California. I’m an Oakes affiliate (OOOOOAKES) and I serve as both an AARCC media intern and a FRED facilitator. First years and transfers, you might have seen me as a Black Academy mentor this year as well! This is my first year working for the African American Resource and Cultural Center, but I’m psyched to answer any questions you guys might have so feel free to reach out at spaysing@ucsc.edu.

  • Xaul Starr

    Xaul Starr

    Hello All!!! My name is Xaul Starr and I use He/They pronouns. I am a Third year Earth Sciences with a Concentration in Environmental Geology, affiliated with Stevenson College. This is my first year working for AARCC as a Media Intern on the marketing team. I will be co-running the AARCC Twitter (@UCSCAARCC) and will be helping out with AARCC’s events as a Zoom Tech. Outside of my AARCC position, I am the current BSU Vice President and also a part of the D-1 UCSC Ultimate Frisbee Team. Yes, UCSC has a Competitive D-1 Ultimate Frisbee Team. My hobbies include listening to music, gaming, watching and playing sports, and hanging out with friends and family. I’m super excited and grateful to have the opportunity to work for the AARCC and to keep creating and maintaining safe spaces for ABC and BIPOC identifying folx. If you have any questions or want to reach out don’t be afraid to email me at xstarr@ucsc.edu!

  • Academic Interns

  • Seeyade Gizachew

    Seeyade Gizachew

    My name is Seeyade Gizachew and I am a third year Community Studies and Psychology double major. I am affiliated with Stevenson college and I serve as a Student Program Coordinator with the AARCC, a peer sexual health educator with SHOP, and as a Textbook Lending Library intern with EOP. This is my second year working with the AARCC team and I am so excited to continue serving my UCSC Black community!  I am passionate about sexual health, specifically within the Black community to help bridge the gaps in education and support resources. I hope to continue creating safe and fun spaces for our community while meeting as many people as I can! If you ever want to talk about anything I am involved in, please feel free to reach out to me at sgizache@ucsc.edu :)


  • Savannah Powell

    Savannah Powell

    My name is Savannah Powell and I am an Academic intern for the African American Resource and Cultural Center. I am a third year student affiliated with Stevenson and I am majoring in Feminist Studies and Education. Moreno Valley, Ca is my hometown and I have eight siblings! Among my favorite activities, I enjoy family time, writing poetry, and playing basketball. Social activism is important to me, and my passion is to develop community and create safe spaces for people of color. I am an empathetic listener who embraces every season of life and loves to spread encouragement and hope. So if you need a listening ear or simply need information about resources, I am here to support your journey !!!!