Rosalind Conerly was the first in her family to attend and graduate from college. Now, as the director of the Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs, she said she uses what she learned as a first-generation student to help students at USC.“Having to navigate school and figure out resources, having to work with my family to teach them about FAFSA and residence halls, [was something] I had to learn as I went [through] my undergraduate years,” Conerly said. She attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She said her experiences there prepared for a career in student affairs. Recently, she completed her Doctorate at USC.As director of the CBCSA, Conerly is able to work closely with Black students at the University, who make up less than 10 percent of the school population. “I’m able to listen to conversations that [students] are having, whether it’s music or TV shows or even deeper conversations about the political climate,” Conerly said. “I get a lot of students that just stop by to check in or tell me how their day is going.”Conerly began her career at the Office of Institutional Inclusion at Arizona State University, where she coordinated diversity programs for both faculty and students. Through her work, she found a new and more personal experience once she joined the staff of the CBCSA. “[USC] was a great opportunity for me to get the hands-on, one-on-one experience with Black students as well as with the larger campus,” Conerly said. As a recent graduate and staff member at the CBCSA, David Elliott IV is one student who has witnessed Conerly’s compassion and hard work.“Not only does she worry about administrative matters but the students themselves. They can come to her with anything, with problems or just to say hello,” said Elliott, who serves as the CBCSA’s outreach and recruitment specialist. “I myself can go into her office and just rant and talk about anything — she makes time for that.” Every year, the CBCSA hosts events that aim to celebrate black culture and create a welcoming, supportive space for students and staff of African descent.This year, Conerly said that the African American Culture Ceremony, which celebrated black students who were members of the USC class of 2017, was an important moment for her first year as the director of the CBCSA. “It was major for me, because I finished my doctorate [at USC’s Rossier School of Education] as well, and it was the first time I got to see an entire class graduate from freshman to senior year,” Conerly said. As Conerly watches the students she works with day to day move forward in their careers, and the conversations at the Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs that she cites as meaningful to her position expand into the bigger world.“We get to see them develop over the four or five-plus years they’ve been here, and it’s great to see them help us celebrate in our own way,” Conerly said.