January 16, 2013

Southwestern Black Student Leadership Conference Kicks Off Thursday

a student speaks during the conference

a student speaks during the conference

The 25th annual Southwestern Black Student Leadership Conference (SBSLC) begins Thursday and continues through Sunday (Jan. 17-20) at Texas A&M University.

“This year is our 25th anniversary, and as we fearlessly approach the future armed with lessons from the past, we want to challenge our participants to use their past experiences as a blueprint for success in an uncertain future,” says Conference Chair Kerry Omughelli.

African-American college students, along with advisers and presenters from throughout the nation, will gather at the university for SBSLC, one of the largest student-led conferences in the nation.

Since it began in 1989, SBSLC has brought together African-American students to address the issues facing the black community, hear speakers and attend workshops that focus on developing strong leadership skills as well as networking opportunities.

With those traditional goals in mind, conference planners have selected “Embrace the Unknown” as this year’s theme.

“I believe ‘Embrace the Unknown’ is the idea that, with each new day, you have the opportunity to create for the better, be it your ideas, family and friends, or relationships. For the unknown is simply potential for the creation of something great,” says Erika Richardson, SBSLC’s director of administration.

Following the opening ceremony Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Memorial Student Center, a poetry slam contest is planned to start the conference off. It will continue Friday with more than 50 workshops, a career fair featuring diverse companies that do business on virtually every continent, a vendor fair supporting small business entrepreneurs and a spiritual charge that planners say will send participants away spiritually driven. A conference schedule is available on the SBSLC website.

Conference speakers include Jewel Diamond Taylor, a trailblazer, author, dynamic communicator and a life coach; Terrence Murphy, a retired football wide receiver and return specialist who currently is the CEO and broker for TM5 Properties, a real estate company specializing in residential, land and investments in Brazos County; Tawan Perry, the creator of the Connect-5 College Completion program that addresses the yearly needs of all college students; Maj. Gen. Ronald Bailey, the first African-American to command the 1st Marine Division – the oldest, largest and most decorated division in the Marine Corps; and Stephen Smith, a sports journalist, talk show host and television personality who currently hosts The Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show on ESPN Radio.

In addition, planners say the conference will also host town-hall meetings. These meetings will give participants an opportunity to engage in peer discussions on various topics.

There will also be an entertainment night on Friday including a variety show featuring up-and-coming artists. These artists also include conference participants who will help open for the night’s headliner, MMG recording artist Stalley.

students at the career fair held during the conference

students at the career fair held during the conference

The Charles Williams II Advanced Leadership Institute (ALI) will be held on campus in conjunction with the conference. Organizers say the institute provides an additional opportunity for student leaders to engage in more in-depth discussions, do case studies and increase their leadership preparation as transitional leaders on their campuses and eventually in their communities.

After the workshops and banquet are over, participants will be able to enjoy a variety of entertainment and events on and around the Texas A&M campus.

Conference planners say the legacy of SBSLC is the combination of knowledge with family, religion, culture and community — and using that combination as tools to become leaders and productive members of society.

Omughelli adds that the conference planners “are dedicated to providing participants with an amazing experience, ensuring they leave the conference ready to positively impact their community, look toward the future without uncertainty or trepidation and are ready to embrace the unknown”.

Most of the conference events will take place in the newly renovated Memorial Student Center and events such as the career fair and entertainment night (which is in Rudder Auditorium) are free and open to Texas A&M students with a valid school ID.

For more information about the conference, presenters and workshops, and information about corporate sponsors and other activities, go here.

Media contact: Tura King, News & Information Services, at (979) 845-4670 or .

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