IU sophomore and accounting major Zach Harper is the first IU student to be selected for a prestigious program for African American men, the Institute for Responsible Citizenship. He said he is excited to join the program as one of twelve sophomore African American male students from all over the country chosen for the two-summer program.
According to the website, the Institute for Responsible Citizenship is a competitive two-summer program for some of America’s best and brightest African American male college students which was founded in 2003.
The scholars live together in a residence hall in D.C., work internships in their fields of interest and participate in a seminar on economic and constitutional principles. They also meet privately with prominent public and private sector leaders, participate in personal and professional development workshops and enjoy a variety of social activities, according to the program’s website.
“The most exciting thing about this is the comradery that the program offers because I like to just bond with people and form that brotherhood, which we need as African American men,” Harper said.
He was encouraged to apply for the program by his adviser, Carmund White, who is associate director of undergraduate programs and director of diversity initiatives at the Kelley School of Business.
“I reached out to Zack because is an exceptional student,” White said. “He is hardworking, consistent and a meaningful contributor to whatever he is doing.”
White said Harper was a great candidate for this opportunity because his interests intersect with business, governmental issues and leadership. He also said Harper is an easy person to be around and work with.
Harper said he is passionate about making a change in his home city, Detroit, Michigan.
“There is so much that needs to be done in terms of restoring the city and helping out many Black students like myself,” Harper said. “The problem is not that there are no intelligent or skilled kids of color in Detroit, but that they do not have access to many resources to help them succeed. I want to help provide resources like those I have been exposed to in future.”
His senior year of high school, Harper co-founded the Black Student Union at his school, Detroit Country Day High School. He said he spoke out against the ongoing problem of racism in the school and demanded accountability from administrators. This was during a time when the school was being sued for racism and harassment against African American students by some students and parents.
At IU, Harper is a member of the Black Student Union and was the community service chair for the group’s freshman action team. During his freshman year, Harper was involved in the Civic Leaders Center, where he participated in different community service programs and created events to educate people on different cultures, religions and sexualities.
Harper currently sits on the Kelley Dean's Advisory Board for Diversity Equity and Inclusion where he is one of twelve students who talks to the Dean about issues of diversity and inclusion in Kelley, IU and the world.
He said he is one of the students who has been speaking out about the ineffective implementation of Kelley Business School’s goals for diversity and inclusion in some of their classes.
IU sophomore Sonia Nussbaum has known Harper for a year and a half. She said he was not handed an opportunity but provided one for himself through his dedication to making this world and nation a better place — despite the way young, Black men such as himself are treated in this nation.
“To say I am proud of Zack is an understatement.” Nussbaum said. “I’m so excited for him to experience and take part in the institute, and I’m so excited for them to experience Zack’s thoughtful wisdom, lighthearted jokes and fun loving personality.”
Harper advises students of color to be confident, take advantage of opportunities and make sure they find communities of color on campus so they have people who understand them.
“Whatever I have done, anyone can do. They just need to believe in themselves,” he said.