Texas A&M Athletics announced the creation of The B.L.U.E.print - Black Leaders who Undertake Excellence - a student-athlete led organization to provide leadership opportunities and a sense of community while empowering Black individuals to use their voice.
Current student-athletes Karlina Sample (President, Soccer), Ciera Johnson (Vice President, Women’s Basketball), Keldrick Carper (Community Relations Coordinator, Football), Jean Jenkins (Social Media Coordinator, Women’s Track & Field) and Chase Lane (Treasurer, Football) are the founding members of The B.L.U.E.print.
“We presented it to Director of Athletics Ross Bjork and Deputy Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Experience Kristen Brown, and they approved our proposal,” Sample said. “They were very supportive of us and very uplifting of the goals that we had and what we wanted this B.L.U.E.print club to become. It is great to have them behind us and supporting us.”
Texas A&M Director of Athletics Ross Bjork said, “I am really proud of our student-athletes who have created the B.L.U.E.print organization, and I appreciate their leadership and collaboration with our athletics staff and the thoughtful and intentional approach to making our program the best it can be. I also commend this leadership group for developing most of these plans in early 2020, well before the current social strife impacted our nation. This vision will allow this plan to have a long term impact for current and future Aggies.”
Inspiration for the B.L.U.E.print began in January after Sample attended a Black student-athlete summit where she gathered ideas to begin a club at Texas A&M for Black women student-athletes only. It was after the murder of George Floyd when Sample made a change of direction and decided to target the club toward both Black men and women student-athletes.
“Black women and men often fight similar battles within society,” said Sample. “We thought it was imperative to make a joint group where Black men and women could essentially learn from and build off of each other.”
The B.L.U.E.print will allow for Black student-athletes to feel comfortable in a space where friendships can be made, experiences can be discussed and concerns can be expressed. The student-athlete led organization will play a large role in the enhancement of a student-athlete’s overall collegiate experience.
“The main goal of the B.L.U.E.print is to create a safe space for Black student-athletes at A&M at a P.W.I., predominantly white institution,” Johnson said. “We want to create an environment where you know people love and care about you. And understand some of the things that you may be going through, where your white counterparts and other people in other minorities may not know what you are going through.”
Their mission is to create a safe space for Black student-athletes to help them elevate and evolve into individual change agents. They are seeking to provide opportunities and a sense of community, while empowering other Black individuals to use their voice.
The vision of The B.L.U.E.print is to enhance the overall student-athlete experience for Black men and women. It will aim to teach Black student-athletes self-love, while empowering them to be their authentic selves in predominantly white spaces. It will educate, equip and empower Black student-athletes to understand their value and worth in society.
“We will be educating the members of the B.L.U.E.print about microaggressions and various forms of racism that take place,” Carper said. “We will educate our members about their legal rights and Black history. We will empower members with confidence to be their authentic self as a Black individual and with different connections through alumni and networking so when we graduated from Texas A&M you have additional opportunities. We will equip members with confidence, self-love, self-pride to build them up as a person.”
While the B.L.U.E.print will be an all-inclusive organization providing community outreach events, the club will also offer exclusive educational sessions on the second Tuesday of every month.
Bjork added, “In early June of this year, Texas A&M athletics organized the Unify Aggies petition with three stated commitments: Educate, Engage, and Help Texas A&M get better. The B.L.U.E.print club will set the standard for these commitments, and the pillars of success they have established will allow our student-athletes to reach their full potential as Aggies. In the coming weeks, we will also unveil a comprehensive diversity and inclusion plan for the entire athletics department. We appreciate our student-athletes for stepping up and being a great example of Texas A&M Core Values.”