Courtesy of Courtney Owens

Students dressed in pajamas and cozy wear for the Building Ourselves Through Sisterhood (B.O.S.S.) self-care and spa bonding event on March 24

March 29, 2023

“Okay To Be Bossy”: BOSS Holds Annual Mental Health Summit, Cultivates Space for Women of Color to Feel Heard and Seen

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“Self-care, brown-skinned girls and releasing your inner child,” “How to be bossy with style and grace,” “Goal setting for the upcoming semester” and “Defining healthy sexual and romantic relationships” are four of the nine workshops Building Ourselves through Sisterhood and Service held during their annual mental health summit on Friday and Saturday. 

BOSS is a student-run organization at Cornell that facilitates peer mentorship and service among women of color, fostering impactful social interactions.

Lasting two days, this year’s mental health summit kicked off with a self-care and spa bonding event on March 24. The second day involved a mental health summit event on March 25, with the theme “Connecting Within and Beyond.” Through this theme, BOSS aimed to encourage mindfulness and cultivate a space for women of color to feel heard and seen.

Promoting meditation and bonding, the conference featured a fireside panel and a series of nine workshops facilitated by students and mental health professionals.

The summit keynote speaker was Freddie Ransome, a creator, internet personality, event curator, DJ and Buzzfeed video producer. Ransome shared her experiences of dealing with imposter syndrome, what she hopes to gain out of her career and the impact she aspires to have on the music industry.

“The imposter syndrome has been real, especially because I have built my career mostly around content creation,” Ransome said. “I do not want people to think I am just becoming an Instagram DJ or an influencer DJ. I want people to know that I respect the craft. I practice so much and want to be respected in this space.”

Ransome also discussed her efforts to sustain her mental health as her career has shifted. 

“I think my mental health is in a good spot right now, because I have made some tough, scary decisions — like leaving my four-year-old management team,” Ransome said. “Also, being aware of the company I keep will lead to my overall success. I like good energy. I love to be held accountable, and I want anyone in my corner to be like, you got this.” 

Summit co-chair Kelli Williams ’24 commented on BOSS’s speaker selection process.

“[When selecting potential speakers and facilitators], we try to think who could speak to and connect the theme in unique ways,” Williams said. “For example, we [had] Jakara Zellner ’23 talking about nature in terms of mental health and how that connection would work. Then, we [had] mental health professionals who did a panel talking about mental health and gave skills and resources to the students, because sometimes it [can feel] inaccessible.” 

Simone Regis ’25, one of the workshop coordinators, described the connections she forged with her fellow summit planners.

“We have formed some nice bonds. …. You connect with people when you are creating things together,” Regis said. “I felt like I was connecting within and beyond while putting all of this together.”

Summit attendees Kassidy Scott ’26 and Abbie Jobe ’26 felt that the workshops helped them to better understand their mental health. 

Jobe said the workshop led by student facilitator Rumbidzai Mangwende ’24 helped her understand the importance of staying organized and balanced.

“[Mangwende] discussed how organization is key and gives you stability. When you feel stable, you can plug into where you are lacking and create ways of creating balance,” Jobe said. “If you don’t know where you’re falling because you’re not organized, how do you know how to improve?”

Scott similarly spoke highly of the summit sessions, which she said allowed her to realize the importance of self-care.

“[I] learned how to apply what I learned at the summit] to my life, my inner life and … my relationships,” Scott said. “Overall, this summit taught me how to take care of myself as a Black woman and how to protect my mental health and my mental spaces.”

Erica Yirenkyi ’25 is a Sun staff writer and can be reached at [email protected].