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SU undergraduates organize Empowering Minds Movement Conference for hundreds of local high school students
SU undergraduates organize Empowering Minds Movement Conference for hundreds of local high school studentsMarch 16, 2006Sara Millersemortim@syr.edu
On March 31, hundreds of high school students will visit Syracuse University for a day of intellectual empowerment and motivation at the inaugural Empowering Minds Movement Conference. The conference, which was conceived and organized by two SU undergraduate students, will bring students from Nottingham, Fowler, Corcoran and Henninger high schools in the Syracuse City School District, as well as Skaneateles, Manlius Pebble Hill, Liverpool and Westhill high schools. More than 300 students are expected to attend.
Students will participate in interactive learning expositions, student organization-led workshops, inspirational speeches and networking with local business executives and a keynote address by BET star and political activist “Cousin” Jeffrey Johnson. There will also be a closing pep rally and musical performance by a surprise guest chosen to motivate student participants. The day’s events are sponsored in part by SU’s Division of Student Affairs and The College of Arts and Sciences.
Empowering Minds Movement founders Travis G. Mason, a senior political science, political philosophy and policy studies major; and Vincent E. Cobb II, a sophomore political philosophy, psychology and policy studies major, have been working with an executive staff of more than 20 SU students on both the movement and its first-ever conference. “The return on the investment of the past nine months will exceed any accolade or pat on the back,” says Cobb. “We expect that return to inspire young men and women who internalize the mission and vision that Travis and I have set forth, which will motivate students to think bigger, reach higher and shine brighter.” Mason and Cobb have been collaborating with local school administrators to arrange students’ participation in the conference.
The Empowering Minds Movement seeks to empower Syracuse-area youth to exercise leadership, service and scholarship in enhancing their own lives, as well as the lives of their peers, school and community. Inspired by its founders’ interpretation of Chancellor Nancy Cantor’s vision for “connected communities,” the movement focuseson leadership development among young people as a means of helping them addressthe challenges faced by society in general and local communities in particular. “Youth are society’s greatest resource, and thus we must instill in them the confidence, skills and characteristics to successfully pursue their goals and passions and strengthen the Syracuse community,” says Mason.
The conference’s purpose is to encourage and inspire youth to solve the problems that stand in the way of their ambitions. The themes that will be addressed are “leadership and civic engagement,” “discrimination and society,” “health and wellness” and “education and beyond.” High school students will interact with SU students, staff and faculty; community members; and members of the local business community; and will explore issues of grassroots activism and social change in a presentation by Johnson, who was national director for the NAACP’s Youth and College Division, then vice president of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, before becoming host and producer of BET’s “Cousin Jeff Chronicles,” a series of true-life documentaries that deal with current and pertinent issues facing urban communities. The day’s events will take place in the Hildegarde and J. Myer Schine Student Center’s Goldstein Auditorium and in other locations around campus.