Leadership on a National Stage: LSU Black Male Leadership Initiative Fellows Present at National Leadership Conference
BATON ROUGE – The LSU Black Male Leadership Initiative, or BMLI, Fellows attended the 25th annual Southwestern Black Student Leadership Conference, or SBSLC, hosted by Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. The conference, “Embrace the Unknown,” took place Jan. 17-20.
More than 500 students representing 50 schools attended the conference, which included keynote addresses from journalist and ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith and Maj. Gen. Ronald L. Bailey, commanding general of the 1st Marine Division.
“The keynote speakers were exceptional. Each of them motivated me to become a better person, student and leader,” said BMLI Fellow Ramon Hardy.
The conference also featured a variety of workshops discussing various topics that included leadership development, professional development and social networking.
Two groups of BMLI Fellows presented workshops focusing on black culture and education. Fellows who developed the first presentation were Derrick Lathan, a junior graphic design major from Baton Rouge; Jared Williams, a junior communications studies major from Metairie; and Vilien Gomez, a junior computer engineering major from White Castle. Their presentation, “Effects of Representation and Images: Success at a Predominately White Institutions,” focused on the concept of social capital as it relates to the multicultural community participation at a predominately white institution, or PWI.
Fellows who developed the second presentation were Ramon Hardy, a junior mass communication major from St. Francisville; John Lewis, a junior computer engineering major from Ellenwood, Ga.; and Ka’Ron
Alexander, a junior petroleum engineering major from New Iberia. Their presentation, “The Obstacle Course: Black Males vs. Higher Education,” discussed necessary policy and support systems to assist black males in overcoming obstacles related to academic achievement and personal development at predominately white institutions.
“Presenting at the conference was a way for me to share my insights into issues that affect black males at PWIs,” said Gomez. “The audience’s engagement with the presentation showed us that we were effective in communicating our message.”
In addition to his presentation, Lathan also participated in the SBSLC second annual poetry slam, which served as a kickoff to the conference.
“Participating in the poetry slam was truly a gratifying, humbling and inspirational experience,” said Lathan. “It gave me the confidence to continue to perform.”
Other BMLI Fellows that attended the conference included DeQuinten Glenn, a sophomore kinesiology major from Baton Rouge; Kristian Black, a sophomore biology major from Shreveport; Travoll Payne, a sophomore biochemistry major from Jacksonville, Ark.; and Brylon Crier, a senior BMLI alum finance major from Albany who served as a conference-mentor for the fellows.
“The SBSLC taught me many different aspects of leadership, including time management, goal setting, organizational skills and the importance of self-reflection,” said Payne. “Seeing so many African-Americans dedicated to success has motivated me to continue to strive to reach my goals.”
BMLI Fellow’s administrators accompanying the students included BMLI Program Director Chaunda Allen, assistant to the vice provost and director of Multicultural Affairs; BMLI Program Graduate Coordinator Vincent Harris; and Fellows Program Graduate Interns Jude Legiste and Jerry Whitmore Jr.
The BMLI Fellows Program is a retention and leadership development program established by the LSU Office of Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. For more information or to support BMLI, contact Allen at 225-578-4339, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the BMLI website at www.lsu.edu/bmli.