Black Alumni

We Look to Our Past While Moving Forward

The UCR Black Alumni Chapter’s mission is to build a community that advocates for and creates opportunities for the academic excellence, professional growth and advancement of Black students, alumni, staff, faculty, and our community at large. From the trailblazing first Black graduates Roy Overstreet (class of 1958) and Zelma Ballard (class of 1959) to our most recent brilliant Black graduates, our respected alumni remind us of where we come from and where we are excited to be headed. We wouldn’t be here today without the enduring legacy and continual support of our Black alumni network. This is also why it is so important that we keep our legacy alive and thriving. To do so, the Black Alumni Chapter has established two main goals:

  1. Build a strong and active pipeline between incoming and current Black UCR students and the UCR Black Alumni network at large.
  2. Establish a fully funded Black Alumni Chapter Endowment Fund by or before 2022. In order for us to successfully establish that Endowment Fund into perpetuity on campus at UCR, we must $25,000 within 5 years. We are diligently working on that.

We believe that if these goals are met, we will have the foundation we need to secure our longstanding legacy for years to come at UCR. Thank you for being a part of the work that we affectionately refer to as “village business.”

Give Back

Attending college and completing a degree are important academic goals for any student. However, among African and African American college-bound students, affordability is one major concern that can be the deciding factor in their initial college attendance, continuation, or completion. To help ease the concern of college affordability for African and African American students at UCR, the Black Alumni Chapter Scholarship. We offer this scholarship to students twice per year. Your support will help to make college more affordable to African and African American scholars attending UCR. Help us keep the positive impact going! The power of our programs is directly dependent on alumni and community support. Of all the alumni traditions on campus, student support holds a special place in the hearts of Black Highlanders. Join our vast network of Black Alumni who are paving the way and paying it forward for the next generation of Black Highlanders through scholarship support, networking and mentorship. To support our efforts, we invite you to can donate to our Fund Functioning as Endowment, participate in UCR’s Legacy Brick Program and/or volunteer your time and talent.

The Black Alumni Chapter Fund Functioning as Endowment, established in 2020, was created to support students with scholarships, emergency funds, and professional development. African Student Programs and the Black Alumni Chapter are combining efforts to raise awareness and provide resources our scholars need to navigate their time at UCR successfully. “Village Business” isn’t just our motto — these are words we live by as it takes a village to help all of our brilliant Black Scholars graduate! Donate directly to our Fund Functioning as Endowment here.

Through the Legacy Brick Program, you make a charitable donation of $500 or more to the Black Alumni Fund, you can also commemorate your time at UCR or honor a member of your family, faculty, or friend with a legacy brick. Currently, we are at 75% of our capacity for bricks, so be sure to secure your spot today! More details here. We hope to see your name in front of the Alumni and Visitors Center!

Monetary contribution is not the only way you can support our Black Scholars. Time and talent are just as valuable. Our scholars could always use an opportunity to network with Black Alumni in the community, learn more about the current job market, sharpen their skillset, participate in internships/externships, network and receive mentorship. Receiving mentorship from a Black Alumni can play important role in nurturing a scholar’s goals and eventual success. Mentorship and networking helps our scholars feel more connected in the community, engaged on campus, while providing our scholars with the unique opportunity to explore their interests outside of the classroom. To volunteer your time and/or talent, please contact African Student Programs.

We can keep that incredible success going with alumni support. Thank you for helping to create our legacy. On behalf of the African and African American scholars and the Black Alumni Chapter, thank you in advance for your kind generosity, selflessness, and servitude.

Rooting for everybody Black,
Keona Henderson
UCR Black Alumni Chapter President

Sankofa Alumni

The sankofabird flies forward, but looks backward, with an egg (the future) in its mouth. It teaches us that we must go back to our roots in order to move forward with success. The alumni featured here truly embody the spirit of sankofa. They have shared the wisdom of the past and as a result, truly strengthened our students' future.


ASP Alumni - Edward Bus

Roy Overstreet

Class of 1958

Notable Fact: Notable Fact: The first African American to receive a degree from UCR. He also has the distinction of becoming the country’s first Black oceanographer, and worked for nearly 30 years tracking oil spills and nuclear material in oceans.

ASP Alumni - Edward Bus

Zelma Jane Ballard

Class of 1959

Notable Fact: Zelma Jane Ballard holds the distinction of being the first African American woman to graduate from UC Riverside. She was an honored guest at UCR's Black Graduation Ceremony in 2011 to celebrate new generations of Black academic success.

Preserving Black Brilliance

Preserving Black Brilliance: The UCR Black Alumni Chapter Inaugural Scholarship Gala

Attending college and completing a degree are important academic goals for any student. However, among African American college-bound students, affordability is one major concern that can be the deciding factor in their initial college attendance, continuation, or completion. In order to ease the concern of college affordability for students at UCR, we are hosting our Inaugural Black Alumni Scholarship Gala. Proceeds will provide scholarship funding to African Student Programs and help us to establish a $25,000 Black Alumni Endowment Fund. Our goal is to raise $15,000 through Gala ticket sales, sponsorships, and donations from UCR Black Alumni, Faculty, Staff, and community stakeholders. Your contribution will help to re-establish unity and community on campus at UCR. A portion of your ticket is tax deductible. Email

Alumni - Ways to Support ASP