WATCH: Class of 2024 students build belonging in personal ways


Belonging happens when people find relationship through inclusion, empathy, shared goals and valuing each other’s ideas and contributions.

Meet three members of the Class of 2024 who represent belonging in action, and who are enriching the Vanderbilt community along the way. Each has brought people from across campus together in mind, body and spirit—whether through hiking, singing, volunteering or spreading words of kindness.

Danait Issac is passionate about environmental justice and strengthening cultural ties for people from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds. She’s tackling these issues in a unique way—taking students out of their comfort zones and into the woods through her “Blackness and the Great Outdoors” initiative.

Paddleboarding trip through Danait Issac’s Blackness and the Great Outdoors initiative through the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center (Submitted photo)

“I love leading these free outdoor trips where we also tie in a discussion or host dialogue groups around Black people and the outdoors and find ways to decompress and heal in nature,” said Issac, who is double majoring in medicine, health and society and gender and sexuality studies, with a minor in environmental and sustainability studies within the College of Arts and Science.

“A lot of times this is the first time a student is able to explore something like kayaking or horseback riding, and I’ve just seen a full transformation by the end of the trip,” she said.


Danait Issac as a child visiting her parents’ home country of Eritrea in Northeast Africa (Submitted photo)

Issac’s parents moved to the U.S from the northeast African country of Eritrea. At Vanderbilt, Issac is closely tied with the Ethiopian-Eritrean Student Association and is passionate about supporting the community and sharing it with others.


“The unique ways that we [in the Eritrean community] eat together and celebrate together and mourn together really taught me the importance of being a part of a collective and the power of community,” she said. “That feeling of community is something that I brought to Vanderbilt, and I am so immensely grateful to experience here.”

Read more of Danait’s story here.>>

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday an inspirational text message appears on hundreds of phones across Vanderbilt and beyond. These messages of encouragement, dubbed “Little Love Letters,” are part of a mission of empathetic empowerment and support created by entrepreneur Cambri Driskell.

Cambri Driskell’s “Little Love Letters” (Submitted photo)

“My digital platform called Embody³ is designed to empower young women like me—meeting them in their season of life and encouraging their hearts into whatever they hope their life looks like,” the human and organizational development major said.


Cambri Driskell helped co-host a cross-cultural event while studying abroad in Seville, Spain. (Submitted photo)

Driskell said she came to Vanderbilt with a drive to perform at a high level and be an entrepreneur. She honed business skills and Spanish fluency. But that drive to ascend, among other things, led her to suffer emotionally.

Coming through that season, with the help of a strong community, further inspired her to create avenues for belonging.

“Finding belonging has not been a hard thing because Vanderbilt is full of really amazing people. It’s actually choosing to belong, and not agreeing with the lie that I’m alone and isolated, that was a little bit harder part of the journey. But it’s one that I wouldn’t trade at all because I’ve gotten to have a far deeper gratitude for the people around me and how they’ve come alongside me than I ever did when I thought that I could just trailblaze by myself,” she said.

Read more of Cambri’s story here.>>


Student-athlete and Double ‘Dore Cameron Robinson came to Vanderbilt in 2017, earning academic honors and the respect and love of his Commodores

Cameron Robinson (Submitted photo)

football teammates with his joyful and sincere personality. Early in his undergraduate path, the Mobile, Alabama, native felt a higher calling—and set his sights on Vanderbilt Divinity School. 

“I answered the call to ministry as an undergrad, and it was one of those things that I had to wrestle with because I was like, ‘Who’s going to listen to me?’ But God continued to confirm and to reassure me that I was right where I needed to be,” Robinson said. “All I had to do was just have a little bit of faith and a little bit of trust. And it’s shifted the trajectory of my life.”


Cam Robinson passing out food to unhoused persons with Second Spoon (Submitted photo)

Robinson has created multiple spaces for belonging by connecting with people through music and mentorship.

Robinson knows how tough it can be to juggle academic challenges with competing as an athlete in the SEC. That’s why he is mentoring student-athletes as a graduate fellow with the Office of Student-Athlete Development within the Ingram Center for Student-Athlete Success.


“Mentoring is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” he said. “I’m grateful because it made me the man that I am today. And so, getting a chance to help guys who are in that position now—pouring back into the next generation of student-athletes—is something that I’m passionate about.”

Read more of Cam’s story here.>>