Imani Reid aims to strengthen community in her role as ABC president and as a future nurse

Imani Reid

Imani Reid found a sense of community when she was first introduced to Associated Black Collegians as a freshman. She tries to provide similar support to other students in her role as ABC president. (Photo by August Jennewein)

When she’s not attending classes in the College of Nursing on South Campus, Imani Reid can usually be found tucked behind the desk in the small office assigned to the student organization Associated Black Collegians on the third floor of the Millennium Student Center.

The space in the Office of Student Involvement is where Reid first started to feel at home at the University of Missouri–St. Louis during her freshman year after moving from Kansas City.

She relishes the opportunity to help others discover that same sense of community there now, more than four years later, in her role as ABC president.

“I like being a person that people can come to when they have problems, letting them know that they’re not the only one,” she said. “If it’s not me, I know someone who’s gone through that, and I can connect them to each other or I can direct them to a really good faculty or staff member who can relate to the student, building that connection, because that’s what happened to me.”

Last year’s president, Jonice Langford, recruited Reid to the leadership position, though she still had to go through a nomination process. Ashlee Roberts, the associate director of the Office of Student Involvement and an advisor to Associated Black Collegians, was a proponent of her taking over the role.

Reid had previously served as ABC’s events coordinator during his sophomore year and last year worked as the vice president of the Minority Student Nurses Association.

“The group needed to be able to move forward because it’s had some challenging times in the last couple of years,” Roberts said. “Imani has strong teamwork, organizational and communication skills, and she’s done a lot of the reflective leadership, thinking about who she is and what she brings to the table. She’s able to really articulate a vision and guide newer student leaders through that process.”

Reid leads bi-weekly meetings for the group’s membership and works with the executive board to ensure it’s taking actions in line with its goals – to uplift, promote, unify, and to enrich socio-cultural well being of black students as well as nurture academic achievement.

The beginning of the spring semester is a particularly busy time because ABC – founded in 1968 – has a seat at the table helping organize Black History Month activities. This year, the group is a sponsoring a Black Love event where attendees can hear about and take wisdom from the experiences of African American couples of different stripes on Wednesday evening in Century Room C of the MSC.

ABC is also sponsoring Trap Yoga on Feb. 24 at the Recreation and Wellness Center, and “An Evening with Percy Green: Civil Rights Icon,” co-sponsored with the African American Alumni Chapter on Feb. 26 at the J.C. Penney Summit Lounge.

Reid enjoys being in a position of leadership.

“I can be professional, but I can also be very relatable,” she said. “I think you have to be emotionally intelligent and be able to deal with different personalities.”

Reid credits nursing alumna Brandi Fields – a former ABC president – for pulling her in and helping her get involved.

At the time, Reid was planning to study biology and weighing potential careers in health care. The two connected because of their shared hometown.

“She kind of took me under her wing as her little sister,” Reid said.

Reid had been one of 36 students in her 2015 graduating class at University Academy Charter School, and she’d gone to school with most of them since the third grade. She knew it could be difficult adjusting to a new environment in college.

As a Kauffman Scholar, Reid could have had a full scholarship to a number of schools in Missouri or Kansas, but she chose UMSL because it didn’t feel so big that she’d become a number.

Fields helped ensure that was true, bringing Reid to ABC meetings and other events. The more she got involved, the more her support network grew.

She received the Chancellor’s Engaged Leaders Certificate as a sophomore, the same year she took the lead developing ABC’s No Stress Zone event – a coordinated two-hour reprieve from worrying about exams during finals week.

Reid switched her major to nursing as a junior, believing that career would provide her with the most interaction with patients. As with her on-campus activities, she is motivated by building connections.

One of two recipients of the Black Faculty & Staff Association Scholarship Award from the College of Nursing last spring, Reid would like to begin her career working with children and has toyed with the idea of becoming a travel nurse once she earns her degree.

After gaining some experience, she’d like to return to school and advance her education to become a charge nurse or nurse practitioner.

“There are a lot of different ideas flowing in my head, but I want to be able to educate the community about how to better take care of their bodies,” Reid said. “I don’t mean just exercising, but if they’re diabetic, teaching them how to manage that and prevent things from happening.”

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