On Jan. 18, Tulsa Community College (TCC) hosted a virtual symposium coordinated by the African American Male Student Success Team (AAMSST) for students, faculty, staff, and community members from across the Greater Tulsa area.
The free event invited both high school and college students, regardless of gender or age, to attend. Attendees included students and alumni from Union High School, Holland Hall, Oklahoma State University (OSU), all in addition to students and faculty from TCC.
Michael Singleton, an academic success coach and mentor for TCC, lead the program in conjunction with Dr. Dewayne Dickens, director of Culturally Responsive Practices, to ensure the event went smoothly.
Three speakers were selected to present dynamic keynote addresses including Kenya Williams, Dwight Taylor, and Greg Robinson. Each guest speaker shared an overview of their background and professional careers before transitioning into the main message.
Kenya Williams, a TCC graduate and current Oklahoma State University student, encouraged attendees to ask themselves, “What is your why?” Williams explained your “why” is the source of willpower and the reason behind success. “Uncomfortability” was another idea he stressed as a cause of growth. Williams wrapped up his keynote with questioning the meaning of legacies and how to leave a successful legacy.
Greg Robinson, community organizer and former mayoral candidate, lead the next segment of the program based around the importance of community engagement. Citing his beginnings in a program similar to AAMSST, called Black Male Achievers, Robinson shared a personal lesson taken from earlier in his career in community engagement and organizing about the importance of listening to the community. Transitioning from past experiences to application in Tulsa in the present, Robinson encourages the audience to put forth a good work ethic, as “it is going to lead to where you want to go in the future.”
The final speaker for the event, Dwight Taylor Sr. introduced himself as a husband and father. In addition, Taylor also is an Amazon Best Selling Author and Certified Transformational Coach. While sharing many notes of interest, Taylor focused on communicating his points through rhyming schemes and acronyms. “UPGRADE” was a highlight in the message, standing for: Unlock your greatness, Pursue your wildest dreams, Generate grateful vibes only, Respond, Awaken your awareness, Decide wisely, and Eliminate excuses.
Ramona Curtis, director for Diversity Outreach Programs, described the symposium as an “engaging opportunity to energize student as they relive the past and set priorities for the future.”
After the keynote speakers, attendees were directed into numerous Zoom rooms for breakout sessions. In the small group settings, characters were assigned to members as part of a roleplay and reconciliation activity based around the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Curtis complimented the many TCC faculty and staff for their portrayals. She describes, “they brought the characters to life in a way that put you in 1921 for a moment. They also left us with inspiring messages for today.”
While holding community events during the effects of COVID-19 being felt throughout our society and culture, the event had an array of success. As Michael Singleton described, “It was our first time doing this event via Zoom and I was proud of how our team connected to support our students.” He wants to thank faculty and staff who helped him to produce the event for the students.
Despite always wishing for larger attendance numbers to reach a greater part of the student body, the symposium left Singleton in great spirits, leaving him excited for future events as they “give [him] a chance to continue to build student relationships, starting with the students who came to the event.” He also hopes students recognize the support available to them and make decisions to persist through their studies.
Singleton specifically wanted to reach out to the African American male students at TCC, “they have a support, a brotherhood at TCC, there to support them in accomplishing their education goals successfully.”
For more information on AAMSST, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.