By Ameera Steward
If you are an African-American woman on a college campus in the Deep South, it can be hard to feel connected to a campus community. This reality is compounded for those who don’t want to go Greek.
A few students at Auburn University have decided to lead the way and create another way for young minority women to connect and bust down stereotypes all at the same time.
Group co-founder Jocelyn Blander told RISE NEWS that Untamed is an organization that promotes unity among minority college women.
It is meant to establish a community to promote healthy hair and a healthy lifestyle.
Untamed co-founder Rachel Wiggins said that they started the group primarily for natural hair, but after realizing that every girl doesn’t have natural hair, they switched it up to a focus on healthy hair and a healthy lifestyle.
“I know a lot of things on campus are directed towards Greek life if you’re African-American on campus so we tried to find a group that necessarily wasn’t Greek but could still bring women together for a common cause, talk about hair, talk about lifestyle and talk about different issues in the world,” Wiggins said in an interview.
Untamed has been an organization for about a year according to Wiggins, and over the year they have had fundraisers, restaurant benefit nights, forums and their most recent event was a fashion show that was April 14.
Blander said that the theme of the fashion show was the versatility of black men and women. She also said that the purpose of the show is to kickoff major Untamed events, and to get the public to be more interested in the organization.
Wiggins added that it gave them the opportunity to get connected with boutiques and different people in the community which helped get their name out. She also said that many of the girls were excited about modeling in the show and helping out behind the scenes.
“Untamed is a good organization for young black females to feel like they have a place in life because a lot of organizations on campus don’t really welcome us as much as this one does,” Untamed member Shamari Petton-Webb said.
Both Wiggins and Blander said how they are excited for the future. Wiggins further explains by saying that they built the foundation of Untamed to last a long time. She said she and Blander are both graduating soon so they would like it to be something that can be passed on.
“It gives me a real hope that it’ll be more than just this thing that started and ends when we leave but keeps going,” Wiggins said. “I hope when I come back in 5 years it’s still going on.”
Blander isn’t just hopeful for the future but said she’s encouraged as well.
“Untamed makes me feel hopeful for the future, and encouraged after getting insight into what young women at Auburn actually care about and are concerned with,” Blander said.
Not only are Blander and Wiggins excited about the future but nervous about it as well. Blander explains that she is concerned that the meaning and purpose of Untamed will get lost in the events but, she added, if the intentions and values of leadership remain strong, the purpose will shine through.
Wiggins said she concerned that because the organization is still new, it’s moldable. She said she wants it to have the same vision and foundation and the same passion put into it.
“Leaving in August is like leaving someone else to finish my clay pot that I started; it’s kind of iffy but I have faith and the leadership team we have now, they’re going to be here for a little while longer,” said Wiggins.
Both Blander and Wiggins said that having Untamed extend to other schools would be great and is a vision they’ve had.
“In Untamed it’s not a competition; we’re all doing the same thing, being an African-American girl on a predominantly white campus, you need that community,” Wiggins said. “There’s no pressure to join a sorority to be around other black girls.”
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Cover Photo Credit: Submitted