PEARL – College is a time for traditional-age students when decisions can make or break their lives for years – and the time for discipline is now, said the keynote speaker at the M2M Education Meets Excellence summit Sept. 13.
Antonio Robinson, director of Upward Bound Math and Science program at Trident Technical College in Charleston, S.C., told about 250 students of Hinds, high schools from the region and others his talk wasn’t so much to preach, but to lay out the best life strategies for college and beyond.
His presentation was titled A Gentleman’s Guide to Personal Development.
“When students spend a year with me, they will come out different,” he said. “If they’re the same person they were a year ago, then I’ve failed at my job.
“I call it the gentleman’s guide because a gentleman doesn’t force stuff on you,” he said. “It’s here for you to take with you. You know how you know what’s right and you don’t always do what’s right? My mission in life is to close the gap between knowing and doing.”
Robinson, who holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees in counseling from Charleston Southern University and has counseled in high schools and colleges for 20 years, spoke of the importance of making good decisions in all facets of life, starting in college. Examples ranged from how diligently to study for tests to their choices of friends.
“Your network will determine your net worth. Surround yourself with people who have a value of themselves. Hang out with people who force you to step it up. You’re always one decision away from a totally different life.”
Students from Jackson Public School, Hinds County School District and The Piney Woods School attended this fall’s summit, held in the Muse Center on the Rankin Campus.
“I learned you have to be well-organized and be attentive,” said Steven Little, a junior at Murrah High School. “And have a good appearance, because people really do judge you on your appearance in life.”
Breakout sessions were conducted by Oklahoma-based Paradigm Shift, a nonprofit group specializing in motivating youth.
“This summit provided an opportunity for our students to engage with their peers and serve as active leaders and forward thinkers,” M2M director Dr. Aleisha Escobedo said.
The grant-funded initiative on campus that has provided leadership training, career counseling and other services to help African-Americans succeed in college is building on a $1.6 million federal grant secured in 2016 under the Title III, Part A, Predominantly Black Institutions (PBI) Formula Program of the U.S. Department of Education. The two-year grant is $2.1 million.
The funds will enable the college to improve its instructional program and emerging technologies, plus augment student support services. The grant also provides innovative faculty and staff training efforts designed to close the achievement gap between African-American students and other student populations at the college. The five-year grant ends in 2021.