Black Ivy Vacay: A Conversation with Co-Organizer Addis Boyd

All photos by Kike Maldonado

After co-organizing a trip for 30 black Ivy League students to Mexico in January, entrepreneur and Columbia student Addis Boyd discussed the planning process and inspiration behind the Black Ivy Vacay. Boyd stressed that the Black Ivy Vacay was a collaboration with Domonique Cynthia, a popular higher education YouTuber and his girlfriend. He emphasized that the project was her idea, and they both contributed equally; watch Cynthia’s video about the trip on her YouTube channel, and read more about the project below.

Black Ivy Vacay:

Addis Boyd:

Domonique Cynthia:

So to get started, can you tell me a little bit about what you're up to these days?

Yeah, so I’m in, I guess now, my final couple months of college. So to tell you the truth, my priority is on maximizing my time, my remaining time in school. However, I also have a brand that I started my freshman year called Sistas of Liberty Apparel that I’m under the process of rebranding right now, so I’ve been definitely devoting some time to that. Probably those two things mostly. And then also, my girlfriend and I started a trip for 30 Black Ivy League students to just network with each other and create lasting bonds, especially within communities where we’re underrepresented. We had our first trip in January to Mexico, and it was a big success. So we’re working right now on planning our second trip. That’s kind of what I’ve been up to.

The Co-founders of the trip: Domonique Cynthia (University of Pennsylvania) and Addis Boyd (Columbia University)

I wanted to ask about the Black Ivy Vacay Project. What inspired that?

Yeah, that’s a great question. I think it’s two parts. So like I said, again, my girlfriend – her name is Domonique Cynthia – she’s fairly large within the college YouTube realm and has her own channel of almost 90,000 subscribers now. So this was, I think, started off with her really leading the charge. She wanted to, you know, create a space that kind of helped to basically sum up what she’s done in college, which has been traveling to universities and interviewing people and making these universities more accessible to underrepresented and minority youth that have aspirations of going to prestigious schools. So she just kind of, in having met all the people that she’s met, thought it would be a cool capstone of sorts to create a trip in which people that look like us were brought together. I think that’s kind of the initial inspo. Not to mention, there was definitely other events like gatherings and whatnot that really helped it come to fruition. So I would say that’s kind of how it was inspired.

The Women of the Black Ivy Vacay. Top Row: Rachel Marsh (Columbia), Ngozi Okoli (Yale), Gabby Carter (Princeton), Jordan Lawanson (Harvard), Zoë Hopson (Yale), Lauren Parker(Brown), Rebecca Thompson (Harvard), Imani Marcelo(Yale), Alexandra Jones (Yale), Venus Chidinma Nnadi (Harvard)
Bottom Row: Ariana Ramsey (Dartmouth), Nia Robinson (Penn), Domonique Cynthia(Penn), Amira Parker (Brown), Solana Craig (Yale), Shavonna Jackson(Harvard)
Not Pictured: Tonika Henry (Columbia)

And that makes sense, given what I've seen of it on social media, and on Domonique's YouTube. How did you two plan that experience?

This last summer, we both spent time in our home cities, [and] she came to Columbus. And while she was there is kind of when the idea was birthed. And I think we saw a trip that happened actually, with some people that were older than us, that was somewhat similar and definitely could also be counted as inspiration too, definitely on my front, because it was done by people that actually went to my school. But she pitched the idea to me of just starting a big trip like that for seniors in our grade and for those of us that were black. And I thought that, you know, I thought it was a good idea. I didn’t think necessarily at the time that it could be international and as big as it turned out to be. But it was definitely on board with the basic concept of us gathering and having networking events. And from there, we kind of both had ideas of how we wanted it to shape in terms of a day to day type thing.

From there, we told our parents about it, and after that support, we just started inviting people and putting together an itinerary. Actually, there’s a company that we work with called TourHero that ended up sponsoring some of the excursions for us. However, everything that was an excursion, which was probably the bulk of the trip, was up to Dom and I to plan. And what we ended up doing was making most of the things that we did a surprise. Our initial sell to people was that you’re going to be in a villa with 29 other people that were like minded and look like you and you were just gonna gather. So people were really excited to come to a villa in Mexico and play Uno and dominos for a few days… they didn’t know that they were actually going to go do some more cool things. But yeah, [we put in] definitely tens if not hundreds of hours of planning over months, so it was a lot of work. But I’m happy that it came to fruition, and it was a really huge success… People enjoyed themselves.

The Men of the Black Ivy Vacay. Top row: John Alyn (Columbia), Gene Nartley (Harvard), Schaddei Vidal (Stanford), Selorm Tamakloe (Yale), Folarin Okulaja (Princeton), Drake Johnson (Harvard), Tarik Graham (Harvard), Khaliq Jolly (Cornell)

Bottom Row: Jayson King’ori (Columbia), Zico Gharrafi (Columbia), Addis Boyd (Columbia), Cheick Camara (Cornell), Sam Lindner (Penn)

 

Yeah, no kidding. It seemed like a really wonderful opportunity for folks to get together and not only network, but also just enjoy being around each other in sort of a more informal setting.

Exactly. And I think that was another one of the points was that when we do gather, it’s usually for like, conferences, or like pre-professional events and that type of thing. Which I think is kind of the scene in which most of us, if we did know people that were coming on the trip, had met. It was nice to have something that was just fun and laid back. I’ll also say though, too, that most people did not [know each other prior to the trip]. There were 30 people that came, and I think the person that people knew best was my girlfriend. And even she really knew maybe seven to eight people that were coming… the rest of the people she knew of, but was really excited to start to foster a relationship and make that connection. I think that that type feeling was how everybody on the trip kind of felt, and I think why it ended up being such a special group is that everybody was willing to take the risk to be with a lot of people that they didn’t know but still thought that they could potentially click with.

Good. That sounds really wonderful. And you said that you all are planning a second excursion?

Yeah, so we’re currently in the works of doing something for post graduation. So I guess it would technically be as a graduation gift to ourselves.

Keep an eye out for forthcoming interviews from Addis on his clothing company Sistas of Liberty and check out the links below for more information!

Sistas of Liberty

The Black Ivy Vacay Instagram

Addis Boyd’s Instagram

Domonique Cynthia’s Instagram and YouTube

 

Abby Jeffers
UJ Staff Journalist | More By This Author

Abby Jeffers (she/they) is a fourth-year strategic communication student at Ohio University who holds a deep passion for storytelling and people. She wants to use their communications skills for good, and they can often be found walking her dog, drinking homemade cold brew, or trying a new craft.

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