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Minority Male Initiative Conference Returns Feb. 19

Brookdale and the Monmouth/Ocean County Pan Hellenic Council will join forces once again on Feb. 19 to offer guidance, support and unique opportunities to college-age, male minority students.

The second annual “Minority Male Initiative” conference, beginning at 9 a.m. in the Student Life Center, is free and open to local high school seniors and current Brookdale students.

Titled “Finding a Career That Suits You,” the conference will offer career-oriented workshops led by industry professionals in four separate career clusters:  STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics); health care and health science; business and social science; and communications media.

Attendees are invited to explore potential careers in their areas of interest and learn the quickest and most effective ways of breaking into specific industries. The conference will also allow students to network with established professionals and apply for Brookdale scholarships available exclusively to Minority Male Initiative participants.

Pastor Semaj Y. Vanzant, lead pastor-teacher at Second Baptist Church in Asbury Park, will provide a keynote address.

While the conference is free to attend, pre-registration is required. High school students should contact their school’s guidance department to register and receive a scholarship application. Brookdale students should contact Fidel Wilson at fwilson@brookdalecc.edu. Check-in begins at 8 a.m., and refreshments will be served.

The conference, co-sponsored by Meridian Health and Brookdale’s Educational Opportunity Fund program, is part of a comprehensive, community-driven effort to increase support for minority male college students in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

“Each year, more and more males of color are enrolling in college with the goal of earning a degree and starting a rewarding career,” said Fidel Wilson, assistant Brookdale professor and a co-founder of the Male Minority Initiative. “But gaps still remain, both in the classroom and in the workforce.”

According to a 2012 report by the National Center for Education Statistics, only 34 percent of black males who enrolled as full-time college students earned a bachelor’s degree within six years, as opposed to 59 percent of white males. According to a May 2014 study by the Cen­ter for Eco­nom­ic and Policy Re­search, 12.4 percent of black college graduates age 22 to 27 were unemployed, more than double the unemployment rate for all college graduates in the same age group.

“Black and Hispanic students face unique challenges and have unique questions that they need answers to,” Wilson added. “Our goal is to connect those students with professionals, teachers and community leaders who have overcome those challenges and who have found those answers.”

Photo caption: Assistant Professor Fidel Wilson (left) speaks during the inaugural Male Minority Initiative conference in Lincroft in 2015.