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BIPOC Business Week: Building a More Inclusive Future

Mar 20, 2024 By Queens University Communications

Queens University of Charlotte wrapped up a successful BIPOC Business Week with a full schedule of daily activities focused on educating students about professional development and personal wellbeing, on and off-campus. BIPOC is an acronym for Black, Indigenous, People of Color. This was the second year that Queens’ McColl School of Business partnered with the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement (DICE) to coordinate the events.

The purpose of BIPOC Business Week is to offer representation to a diverse student community while aligning with the goals set forth in the University’s Strategic Framework to be an institution of higher learning that leads in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“Programs like BIPOC Business Week are crucial for ensuring that all students feel valued and empowered, said Stephanie Keene, director of enrollment and student services. “Representation is key – seeing someone in your dream role demonstrates the attainability of your goals.”

This year, BIPOC Business Week kicked off with a lunch and learn featuring Charlotte-area nonprofit leaders. Next, Winston Len, managing partner of Equator Venture LLC, spoke with students about career opportunities and money management. According to Len, “Resilience is important for success. You never walk away from a situation without learning something unless you choose not to.”

Charmain Lewis, Queens’ associate director of digital engagement, led a Wellness in All Shades event in which students learned about yoga and mindfulness. “In order for students to thrive, it is essential that we prioritize their overall wellbeing, including their mental health. While many people struggle with mental health issues, BIPOC students often face additional barriers due to stigma and limited access to care,” said Lewis. “I feel grateful and honored to have the opportunity to combine my love for teaching yoga with my passion for helping students.”

Queens student Kamille Rodgers ’27, a biochemistry major, reflected on the lessons learned throughout BIPOC Business Week. “Mr. Len’s discussion about financial success was interesting and made me think about how I will approach financial planning in the future,” said Rodgers. “Also, Ms. Lewis’ puppy yoga class highlighted the importance of stress relief through yoga, especially for stressed college students, like myself.”

The Get Your Grub On event allowed students, faculty, and staff to enjoy cuisine from local BIPOC-owned entrepreneurs at a food truck event on campus. The Queens community feasted on Korean BBQ from Chang-a-Lang, funnel cake from Fun Oh Cakes, and Tacos from Taco Ole.

The week wrapped up with a visit to Manolo’s Bakery in Charlotte. The bakery was opened by Manolo Betancur, a native of Colombia, and serves a variety of sweets and delicacies from different Latin American cultures. Students learned about the challenges and success of being an immigrant and entrepreneur while learning about Betancur’s dedication to supporting his community. According to Betancur, “It is hard to start a small business, but it is harder to keep it open – and I have been open for 27 years. I attribute this to creating and maintaining strong ties to my community. Manolo’s is a place where people can unite to enjoy themselves and our food with friends and neighbors from all countries.”

Rosa Ramirez, assistant director of DICE, worked closely with Keene to make this year’s event a success. “BIPOC Business Week is an important time for students and staff to learn about businesses locally that they can support,” said Ramirez. “We hope to encourage them to support small local BIPOC-owned businesses in Charlotte. They might find their new favorite bakery or a nonprofit to volunteer with. Either way, it creates a chain reaction to support local BIPOC-owned businesses!”

“I appreciate the hard work of the DICE Office and look forward to working on future events that will strengthen and celebrate the richness of the Queens community,” said Keene.