Francis Sampson finds community in Rice's Black student organizations

Francis Sampson is a Martel College junior majoring in Mechanical Engineering and minoring in African and African-American Studies. A Houston native, he enjoys playing saxophone in his free time and dancing, especially to Afrobeats. Francis is a member of a wide variety of student organizations at Rice, including the Rice Black Male Leadership Initiative (BMLI), the Rice African Student Association (RASA), the Rice Black Student Association (BSA), The Impact Movement of Rice University and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). In the near future, and driven by his involvement with those organizations, he is considering a career in engineering diversity.

Why are your student organizations important to you?

I think all of the organizations really emphasized the importance of Blackness and standing proud in that Blackness, and I have been able to see that through the different things each organization focuses on. More specifically, I've been able to experience a sense of brotherhood in BMLI that I didn't get to experience nearly as strong in high school. I can grow closer to my Ghanaian roots and really express that side of me through discussions and dancing in RASA. I can discuss what my Black American identity is and how I feel about it in BSA. I can practice my Christian faith with people who look like me and believe in the same things. I also get a professional network with people who look like me and want to see me succeed academically in NSBE. These aspects have all been super important to me and I am fortunate that these clubs have given so much to me in my two years at Rice. I can only hope to be able to return that to these families.

What has diversity and inclusion meant to you at Rice?

Diversity, equity and inclusion are important to me, especially from my stance as a Black student at a predominately white institution. I know the significance of finding your specific communities at Rice, and really wherever you go, and I am truly blessed to have found that within the Black community at Rice. My Black experience is important and I value having a space to share that. I would love for more spaces to be made available for students of color to feel comfortable sharing their experiences at Rice as well.