Black leaders, cultural vendors and engaging music were the big draw at this year’s Afro-Palooza event.
More than 100 people showed up at the Cove @ UCI Beall Applied Innovation for the second annual event, hosted by UCI’s Black Innovators Collective and L.A. African, a worldwide network committed to growing a community where young African professionals can collaborate. At the event, attendees viewed performances from hip-hop artists, traditional African dancers and musicians.
Created one year ago, the UCI Black Innovators Collective aims to inspire ingenuity on campus to help students pursue dreams and aspirations in all industries, including science, technology and entertainment.
“Afro-Palooza is really about bring the community together to give students the opportunity to connect with leaders who are really breaking barriers,” said Zara Oparaugo, founder of UCI Black Innovators Collective and L.A. African. “It provides them [students and young professionals] with a platform to ask about their journeys, how they can learn from past mistakes and discover more resources.”
The event also hosted a Q&A panel that featured three black leaders who paved their path to success in the entertainment and tech industries. Iddris Sandu, technology architect, began his journey at age nine when he became fascinated with the first generation iPhone. After learning every program associated with building the iPhone, at age 13, Sandu started an internship at Google. From there his career progressed into consulting for companies like Facebook, Twitter and ultimately Uber.
“Intelligence is the new cool,” said Sandu. “My biggest lesson is the only validation I need is internal. The only person you ever need to meet is yourself because that is the only person you are guaranteed to spend the rest of your life with.”
To learn more, visit L.A. African.
*Cover image: The second annual Afro-Palooza event kicked off with photo booths, vendors and networking. Photo courtesy of: Ekemini Sam, @fygyproductions