CSULB student with passion for inclusion among first Black Student Success Scholarship honorees

Published June 18, 2024

Chloe Thomas, a third-year marketing student who is an active member of several organizations cultivating inclusion and Black success at The Beach, is one of six students in the California State University system to be honored as an inaugural recipient of the Black Student Success Scholarship.

“At the center of my being, I’m a community builder,” Thomas said.  

Nominating Thomas for the scholarship, campus President Jane Close Conoley called Thomas “a true exemplar of Black excellence,” citing her numerous activities in which she helps students, faculty, staff and friends of The Beach make connections and support each other. These include Thomas’ work in setting up workshops to help students find scholarships and her engagement with several campus constituencies as a member of the Black Leadership Council.

Thomas also co-edits the CSULB Black Scholars’ Newsletter and has served on planning committees for notable events: Day at The Beach Black Student Reception, Black/Pan-African Graduation Celebration and the first Black Excellence Overnight.

“With the support of the Black Student Success Scholarship, Chloe can continue to uplift our Black community and continue working to improve relations between the campus and the greater Black Long Beach community through her established roles,” Conoley wrote.

The CSU honored Thomas and other scholarship recipients on June 14 during the university system’s second biennial Juneteenth Symposium, which took place at Sacramento State University. She and other honorees took a turn to stand beside CSU Board of Trustees Chair Jack B. Clarke Jr. and Chancellor Mildred García while event audiences learned of each recipients’ exemplary accomplishments.

“We know that the guiding force behind the Juneteenth Symposium is student success, and the Black Student Success Scholarship is a reflection of that core focus,” said Aaron Moore, the CSU’s executive director of advancement before announcing scholarship recipients. “Each university was asked to nominate one student who has demonstrated leadership qualities in advancing anti-racism, equitable access to higher education and service related to Black and African American communities.”

When Thomas had her time to stand in front of the viewers who had assembled to watch the event online or via livestream, Moore provided words of acclaim for Thomas’ ability to foster human connections.

“She makes it a focus to be a connection point for Black students on campus, hoping that by dedicating herself to the connection of others, she will help the Black community thrive,” Moore said.

Chloe Thomas, an inaugural recipient of the Black Student Success Scholarship, with "Go Beach" letters in background
Black Student Success Scholarship honoree Chloe Thomas

Thomas was even bringing young people together before she enrolled at The Beach; she founded a Black Culture Club at her high school in Torrance. Club members convened virtually, due to COVID-19, before getting to meet each other in person after her school reopened.

“It helped me get through the pandemic and also helped me establish relationships with other Black students on campus,” she said.

Thomas – whose mother is a former Cal State Long Beach employee – credits an early visit to campus and encounters with students for helping her to perceive The Beach as a welcoming environment.

“I could feel the sense of community,” she said. “I could feel the sense of belonging.”

Thomas’ later experiences at the Black Cultural Welcome helped her to meet her current best friend and set the stage for her involvement in campus the Black Student Union and Black Resource Center.

“It was a safe space for me and safe space to meet other Black students and establish the friendships and nurture those bonds,” Thomas said.

The CSU announcement of the Black Student Success Scholarship comes about one year after the CSU released its 13-point plan to improve Black enrollment and degree completion rates throughout the statewide system.  

What’s more, Cal State Long Beach recently received $250,000 from the CSU to support the campus’ new Black Excellence Collegium. Provost Karyn Scissum Gunn will lead faculty and staff serving on the collegium as they advise others on campus on pending initiatives to encourage young Black students to enroll at The Beach, while also improving the college experience for Black students who are already here.

Thomas compared her present connections to several campus organizations as being linked to others through a family tree. She also named Paul Carter, assistant director of the Black Resource Center, and Tracy Kelly, administrative coordinator for the Student Affairs division as helpful figures on campus.

And Kelly offered an admiring assessment of Thomas' contributions to campus inclusion.

"Chloe is inspiring," Kelly said. "I met her at a Black Alumni Scholarship workshop and immediately knew she should be a part of the Black Scholars team. I could not have been more right. She is a hardworking team player who is passionate about Black student success and is very intentional about uplifting and empowering her community."

Looking forward to her life after her degree, Thomas aspires to use her business education to find a position where she can help companies form connections through such means as brand endorsements, sponsorships and joint venture with other firms or nonprofits. For now, she’s enjoying the rewards of helping members of the Beach community find new opportunities to learn or enjoy their time on campus.

“I enjoy seeing people find where they belong,” she said. “Seeing people make friends.”