“Even though Black History Month is only one month long, I’m Black every day of the year,” says Darius Butler a junior at Northern Kentucky University. “Black History Month is an extended way for me to show up and support my community, and to really be involved and celebrate everything that’s been accomplished to this day.”
Darius, who grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, is majoring in computer information technology and seeking a minor in information systems. He was drawn to NKU through an opportunity to participate in the INTERalliance IT Career Camp on campus while in high school.
The relationships he has formed with faculty and staff at NKU as well as getting involved in student organizations let him know that he made the right choice. Darius’ advice for NKU students is to get involved on campus.
“Always keep exploring and be open to new opportunities,” he says. Darius himself is heavily involved with many organizations at NKU. He is the current vice president of the NKU Black Men’s Organization, a mentor for NKU R.O.C.K.S. and a resident assistant for University Housing.
His involvement is primarily dedicated to his desire to help others.
“I have a huge passion for assisting and providing guidance to others, which is why I’m in the leadership roles I am today,” he says. “It’s such a great feeling when you can help others succeed and to be able to give back to your community.”
“NKU R.O.C.K.S. really set up the foundation for me to succeed at NKU ... I wouldn’t be where I am today without NKU R.O.C.K.S. and the Office of African American Student Initiatives.”
After his participation in NKU R.O.C.K.S. as a freshman, Darius knew he wanted to continue in the program to guide other students through their transition to college.
“NKU R.O.C.K.S. really set up the foundation for me to succeed at NKU,” Darius says. “Being able to come back and mentor other freshmen as they come in has been extremely rewarding. I wouldn’t be where I am today without NKU R.O.C.K.S. and the Office of African American Student Initiatives.”
One of Darius’s favorite memories of NKU is his participation in the yearly Sherehe presented by the Office of African American Student Initiatives (AASI). Sherehe is the graduation celebration for Black students, which Darius has worked on for each of his three years at NKU.
“For Sherehe in the fall semester of 2019, I did a whole video for the graduates to see and share their accomplishments,” he remembers. “To know that, one day, that’s going to be me walking across that stage—that was definitely one of the most fulfilling experiences I have had at NKU.”
Another memorable experience for Darius is the yearly study away experience presented by AASI. These trips are taken to various cities around the country and provide students the opportunity to engage with different locations and learn about African American history. Past trips have taken students to such places as Atlanta, Alabama, Pigeon Forge and South Carolina, among others.
“The trips have had a huge impact on me and allowed me to meet so many people both inside and out of AASI, and that’s really led me to be a fulfilling leader here on campus,” he says.
It was on the Spring Break trip in March of last year that Darius and his fellow students learned of NKU’s immediate transition to remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As soon as we came back, March 13 was when everything started to shut down. So we were fortunate enough to still get to go on that trip,” he notes. “But coming back from that to a completely different world was really tough to have to adjust to so fast.”
The pandemic has also caused some changes to Darius’s career. He is currently working with Kroger as a technology intern.
“It’s really interesting because it’s completely virtual, but it has definitely been impactful to me because I have the opportunity to get professional experience and network with so many people within the technological landscape,” he says. “I can use the leadership skills that I’ve gained from NKU to bring that perspective into the internship as well.”
After graduation, Darius is most looking forward to continuing his career aspirations and finding a place where he can combine his technical aptitude with his leadership abilities into one cohesive work environment where he can continue to learn. He is interested in possibly getting his master’s degree in either organizational leadership or human resources.
“Getting my degree from NKU means opening up to so many new opportunities,” he says. “I mean even just in the process of getting my degree, I’ve already been exposed to so many new things.”
Darius’s favorite staff member at NKU is Carlous Yates, the director of AASI. “Mr. Yates has been truly fundamental to my success at NKU thus far,” he says. “He’s been a mentor to me on campus, and he’s really supported me throughout my journey at NKU.”
And his favorite class at NKU has been his BLS 494 Experience class put on by the AASI.
“It was different from my usual IT classes and broadened my horizons while allowing me to learn about Black History and bond with other African American students.”
Whether you identify as African American or not, Darius urges everyone to attend the university's Black History Month programming.
“We want to see a really diverse group of individuals come out and have a good time in celebrating with us,” he says.
Darius is personally most excited about the Black Men in History event taking place over Zoom on Thursday, Feb. 18, for which he put together a video highlighting important Black male leaders.
“It starts from the 1800s with Nat Turner and goes all the way through Kobe Bryant in the present,” he says. “We’ll have a Kahoot! trivia game about Black history and an open forum after that. It’s going to be really exciting!”