Jan. 15, 2014
University of Cincinnati track & field student-athlete Brian Barney was named Mr. Kuamka 2014 at UC’s 15th annual Red, Black, Green and Gold Ball, which was held Jan. 11 in UC’s Great Hall. The event culminated the African American Cultural and Resource Center’s (AACRC) Kuamka Week at Cincinnati.
The junior from South Holland, Ill. was selected by 17 judges from among 12 contestants during an AACRC competition that involved an essay contest, interview process, impromptu question-and-answer session and talent competition. He received a $200 book scholarship from the AACRC and free participation in the AACRC’s spring break tour of historically African American colleges and universities.
Barney is a 21-year-old health sciences/pre-physical therapy major and full Cincinnatus Scholarship recipient. Along with being on the track & field team, he is active in the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, the UC Career Development Center’s ADVANCE minority student professional development program, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Sigma Sigma Men’s Honorary and Collegiate 100 Black Men’s Honorary. He is interested in achieving a doctoral degree in physical therapy, and wants to pursue a career working with a collegiate or professional sports team.
UC’s African American Cultural and Resource Center first launched Kuamka in 1999. Kuamka is Swahili for “in the beginning.” The AACRC developed Kuamka as a rite of passage celebration for the center’s first-year African American students in its Transitions program to support the university’s retention and graduation of African American students.
The first-year students in Transitions are matched to upper-class mentors and participate in weekly study tables, bi-weekly meetings, community service projects, mid-term evaluations, social activities, rap sessions and more.
Kuamka Week ends with the annual Red, Black, Green and Gold Ball and the crowning of Mr. and Miss Kuamka. The Mr. and Miss Kuamka competition is open to all of UC’s African-American students.
At the end of the school year, the AACRC also celebrates Ushindi, which is Swahili for "Victory," to mark the achievements of students in the Transitions program.
The AACRC at UC first opened in September 1991 to create a welcoming environment for African-American students as they adjust to college life. The center reopened last January after undergoing six months of renovations totaling $325,000 that more than doubled the center’s original capacity.