The Minority Student Union’s Executive leaders recently attended the 2013 National Black Student Leadership Conference held in Raleigh North Carolina. Representing Hampden Sydney were David Coe, John Barber, Jonathon Wade, and Karlton Davis, along with advisor Hakeem Croom to represent the college. They were all welcomed by beautiful North Carolina weather during check-in at the Sheraton where the conference was held. The National Black Student Leadership Conference provides an opportunity to help development leadership in students. This development was propelled by workshops, key speakers, and networking opportunities.
The opening speaker was the energetic Dr. Dennis Rahiim Watson. Watson strutted across the ground floor to deliver his message to the students present instead of from his elevated platform. His message was similar to a fill-in-the-blank activity describing events during his life; the whole room was full of black college students from similar cultures which ended with the same words shouted once Watson cued it was our turn to interact in his speech. The experience was electrified once Watson announced he had Denzel Washington as his best man during his wedding; students viewed Watson in a more respectable light because of his celebrity association. His ethos increased immediately. His overall theme was “you are always on” no matter where you are. This message could help many people out, or at least anyone who is worried about the future. You don’t know whom you will meet daily; you never know what someone’s life is like, or how a random stranger could help you out in your life dream. So why wouldn’t you keep yourself dressed the part and prepared one hundred percent of the time? Committed students listened to this speech and applied it to their plans during this stay.
Following morning events, various eighty minute workshops were devoted to certain topics, which students could choose among freely. Topics ranged from “Wrap-a-Round Leadership; When the Opportunity Comes, Am I Ready?; Greek Leaders: What will you leave, Legacy or Liability?”; to “Breaking the Chains: Death to Willie Lynch”. The messages delivered came from respected individuals thriving in different fields of their lives. David Coe showed a great initiative during the “When the Opportunity Comes” workshop as he actively engaged when others wouldn’t. Presentation styles varied: some involved students getting up and joining groups, where as others were simply listening to the presenter read power points. These sessions were helpful to all that attended, and most presenters had business cards available for contact and booking information. Karlton Davis took the opportunity to network with Johnny Brownlee after a presentation. Mr. Brownlee is a ghost writer, professional blogger, and a music consultant for the MTV and BET networks. Students’ attention was heightened throughout the event, because of the energetic nature of the conference.
Personally Cullen Jones’ name was unfamiliar before this weekend because I did not follow the swimming events during the Olympic Games. He is an Olympic Gold Medalist, the first African American to win a gold medal at the World University Games, and also the first African American to break a swimming world record. It’s a stereotype that African Americans cannot swim; however, Jones did not let that deter him from his Olympic dreams. Cullen Jones discussed his troubles, lessons learned, and his celebrity introductions with Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, and others on the Olympic basketball team. Jones’ take away message emphasized the importance of goals. Everyone should have goals and a list of steps to obtain that goal, and when you reach that goal set another one.
The executive board had a reflection meeting during this trip to discuss last semester’s progress and ways to improve it this semester around. Ideas were contributed from every member. The Hampden Sydney campus will see a continued increase in visibility in the Minority Student Union in a positive direction despite the obstacles in the way. As long as there’s a strong majority, there will be a strong minority.