FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla — The 2015 National Urban’s League’s Youth Leadership summit, themed “Raise the Bar: Dream It. Believe It. Achieve It.” ran adjacent to the National Urban League Conference this past week in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. With part of the National conference’s focus on education, there was no better time to celebrate the accomplishments of the youth members of the Urban League.
From informational plenaries to banquets, hands-on workshops and Jazz concerts, The Urban League’s Youth were well engaged with a week’s worth of their own calendared events, separate from the convention. With Nova Southeastern University serving as one of the summit’s sponsors and host venue, the events brought not only real life college experience but also a wealth of opportunity and exposure.
Destiny Ferguson, 15, a soon to be junior at Plantation High, had the pleasure of welcoming the President and CEO of the National Urban League Marc H. Morial, with her crowd riveting speech that paid homage to the Black Lives Matter movement; honoring victims lost to the brutal tragedies of police violence in America.
Serving on the 2015’s Youth Leadership steering committee, Ferguson and several of her student colleagues spoke on the opportunities as members of the National Urban League.
“The Urban League is providing opportunities for young kids in the community. It is hard to find a program that sticks like the Urban League; The Urban League takes you through so many experiences. It is amazing the work that the Urban League can do with youth and how much we appreciate it.” Ferguson said.
Anthony Williams, a rising junior at Dillard High School says he got his start with the Urban League through participating in a diversion program. Since his involvement, his life and the opportunities he has been presented have changed dramatically. “Being in the Urban League has changed my whole mindset. Since joining I started focusing on what I need to start doing in school and what behavioral attitudes I needed to change.”
Savge Brown, who is on track to graduate early from Coral Springs High to pursue a career as a cardiologist said, “Overall the urban league has created opportunities that I would have never thought I could have received without being in this program. It has given me a lot of experience that I know will be useful in the future and it has giving me great opportunities I could put on my resume like being a part of this steering committee.”
Not to divert from the week of fun, the leadership summit also wanted to provide the students with a glimpse of what employment possibilities would be available to them. With emphasis on STEM focused careers- seen to be the wave of opportunity for the future, cutting the existence of traditional careers by half, the youth engaged themselves in workshops that concentrated on coding, data mining, and engineering, to name a few.
Rhonda Peters, Intel Corporation’s Senior Marketing Manager in Global Diversity and Inclusion spoke to the positives of having the youth engaged in these hands on experiences. “We want the students to be inspired to pursue and getting to know Science, Technology, Engineering and Math in a different way. We decided to have them engage in Supply Chain Management which focuses on, math, industrial engineering, electrical, communication, and marketing to give them a different aspect of what you can do in the technology field.”
Johnson Controls Inc, also gave students the opportunity to build smart buildings, which places emphasis on energy efficiency and technology tailored to suit the buildings uses and occupants. Anthony Billups, Metro Major Projects Sales Manager for Johnson Controls, said he hopes the students who attend his workshop gain “the ability to be innovative and think about the things they would change. I think it is most important, especially for today’s youth who are going to impact the future.”
Johnson controls along with the other companies at the summit, will provide internships and job opportunities for the youth who took part in the 2015 event.