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Friday June 2nd

'There's always an issue that you can advocate for': Meet BSM President Tamiya Troy

"One example of our priceless gems here at this University are leaders like Tamiya."

Black Student Movement president Tamiya Troy also serves as the senior class Vice President. Photo courtesy of Tamiya Troy.
Buy Photos Black Student Movement president Tamiya Troy also serves as the senior class Vice President. Photo courtesy of Tamiya Troy.

CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Tamiya Troy's position as a member of the Carolina Board of Directors. She served as a member on the Carolina Union Board of Directors. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error. 

One of UNC senior Tamiya Troy's favorite activities is playing with her 3-year-old sister Londyn — even as she balances serving as president of the Black Student Movement and vice president of the senior class.

Raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Troy has become a prominent student leader and activist at the University.

"There is always an issue that you can advocate for," Troy said. "I'm contributing to the bettering of this place for everyone that comes after me. I'm able to serve and uplift marginalized communities in any way, shape or form."

Since her first year, Troy has been involved with several student organizations focused on student well-being and diversity.

During her sophomore year, Troy served as communications director and vice president of UNC's Black Student Movement. In this position, she lead a social media campaign and marketing strategy for minority student retention and engagement. Now a senior, and president of BSM, Troy is still looking for ways to support the Black community — especially during a pandemic. 

Tamiya currently serves as the president of the Black Student Movement, which is the largest cultural organization at UNC. She is also the senior class vice president, and in the past has served as a member of the Carolina Board Union of Directors.

Chris Suggs, the senior class president and treasurer of BSM, is one of Troy's closest friends. They met each other in a group chat for new students in 2017, and since then both have served in different roles for BSM. Suggs described Troy as a selfless, kind and energetic person.

"She is always there ensuring people across campus knows about what BSM is doing. There has never been a moment when she said, 'That's not my job,' or anything like that," Suggs said. "She is always willing to be involved in any aspect of the organization."

When Troy was the 2018-19 communications coordinator, she helped BSM recruit new members through different social media campaigns. During that year, the number of members grew to over 400 students.

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Troy said she has made sure BSM is an available resource for Black students. 

She and her team established an emergency mutual aid fund to assist Black students with needs associated with housing, food, transportation, medication and other challenges during the pandemic. BSM's primary goal is to create a safe space where students can lean on each other and celebrate their cultural richness through different outlets, she said. 

With all the work she does on campus, Troy said she still finds time for self-care. 

"You can't fight for the cause if you're down on the ground or if your mental health is at stake," Troy said. "How can I really improve the community if I'm sitting in my room, and all I'm doing is work, work, work?" 

She often spends time with her sister to recharge in between her days full of meetings, classes and duties from her organizations — although Londyn always likes to make sure she is included. 

"She loves coming into my room," Troy said. "Getting into anything she possibly can." 

Suggs said Troy goes above and beyond as a leader, helping to make UNC a special and welcoming place. 

"There's a lot of things that make Carolina a special place, but the people are definitely at the top of that list. One example of our priceless gems here at this University are leaders like Tamiya," Suggs said. 

Troy said it is crucial that members of the movement have space where they can voice concerns and grievances to the school, which often tends to ignore their worries.

"Tamiya has always been very vocal when it comes to expressing her opinion when she feels there is something wrong," Troy's close friend, Onesty McMillian, said. "She's in multiple positions, and she does great in each one of them. She has a lot on her plate, but she keeps up with all of it."

Troy said BSM has faced challenges with school directives. For example, BSM has often provided demands and suggestions to the University. But it can be difficult to get those recommendations taken seriously, she said. 

"We make it a point to really advocate for what we're wanting and not diluting our requests, not diluting our demands," Troy said. 

Sibby Anderson Thompkins, interim chief diversity officer, said that UNC is grateful for BSM's advocacy for Black students, faculty, staff and community members. 

"The organization’s role on this campus is vital," Anderson Thompkins said in a statement. "The recommendations the BSM bring to Carolina’s senior leadership team – whether about navigating the COVID-19 pandemic on campus or addressing racial inequities – help guide decision-making."

Beyond Black History Month, Troy said she hopes to see continued support for Black students and faculty. 

"Outside of February, what are people genuinely doing to help the Black community? Are they listening to us? Are they paying attention to us? Are they supporting us, or is this only happening during the month?" Troy said.

Troy will be graduating this upcoming May with a bachelors degree in journalism. She plans to attend law school next fall, where she hopes to keep working to help people from marginalized communities.

"If you genuinely seek change in your community, you have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone," she said.

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