An Opportunity to Learn and Grow

by Justin Rollins on February 21, 2017

Building Fences: How to Protect Our Community" panelists.

On Jan. 22, I had the opportunity to join “Building Fences: How to Protect Our Community,” an evening of enlightening workshops hosted by the Black Male Development Symposium (BMDS) that focused on being a minority in America.

Dr. Doreen Loury, assistant professor of Sociology at Arcadia and founder of BMDS, spearheaded the event. She noted that, although the University does not host such events often, it was a great opportunity for the minority community to come together and share ways to better themselves, the Arcadia community, and the community outside of campus.

Dr. Loury enlisted the help of an organization called Pushing Our Women of Color To Excel in The Real World (POWER), a true example of what Arcadia stands for: compassion, educational excellence, and the determination to make a difference. During their presentation, members of POWER noted the steady achievement of African Americans, with statistics showing a consistent increase in college enrollment.

The members of POWER also shared tips for African Americans interested in opening their own businesses, such as how to write a business plan, approach banks, and determine how much to borrow. The opportunity to gain such important information made me feel that Arcadia is doing a great job in educating students. These women knew more than an executive director of a financial institution.

The symposium inspired us to make a difference on campus, to be our own advocate, to express any concerns that we might have, and, most of all, to get involved as much as possible.

The symposium also featured expert panelists working in Philadelphia, including Dr. David Thomas, associate vice president of strategic initiatives at the Community College of Philadelphia; Dr. George James, a couples and family therapist; Keir Bradford-Grey, head of the Defender Association of Philadelphia; and James Burnett, executive director of West Philadelphia Financial Services.

I especially liked the moderator, Eric Grimes (a.k.a Shomari), of WURD Radio 900 AM in Philadelphia. I was able to ask him questions about the media business and how hard he had to work to get where he is today.

I also attended a breakout session about mental health in the black community facilitated by Dr. James. I learned that African Americans are sometimes scared to face mental health diagnoses from professionals. As a result, they often self-medicate or self-diagnose, which has disastrous results. The issue connected with some Arcadia students, who shared that their family members face the same issues. This is the beauty of a small university; I appreciate meeting new people and learning their stories just by attending these types of events.

I joined Arcadia’s Office of Institutional Diversity, Pan-African Studies Department, POWER and IMPACT organizations, and Black Awareness Society for the event.

The symposium inspired us to make a difference on campus, to be our own advocate, to express any concerns that we might have, and, most of all, to get involved as much as possible. These types of events are needed on campus to not only put Arcadia on the map as far as getting the public to explore the school and its beauty, but also allowing students to connect with professionals who are already in the field they might be studying, which could turn into job opportunities.

On May 13, Arcadia will host the 10th annual Black Male Development Symposium.

Photos by Chelsea Wilf ’17.