Uplift African-American and Latina young women scholars were invited to take part in the first annual seminar offered to young African-American and Latina females put on by Compelling Why at University of Texas at Dallas.
For the first time young women were invited to the annual Compelling Why seminar, a conference previously reserved for African-American young men and Latino young men.
“I believe that it was an invaluable experience that provided so many young girls the opportunity to learn about the power of positive affirmation, mentorship, community engagement and academic success,” said Syretta Pritchett, Road to College counselor at Uplift Hampton Preparatory.
The speakers for the young African-American women seminar included Deanna Naugles, Cheryl Richardson, and Frances Cudjoe Waters. Speakers for the young Latinas seminar included Lisa Anderson, Michele Bobadilla, Gail Salcido, and Florencia Velasco Fortner as the moderator.
“Hearing about their past showed us to appreciate where we are now,” said Cynara Perdomo, 16, from Uplift Infinity.
Uplift scholars found motivation in the stories of women who overcame obstacles to become successful business women. Scholars found the panelists to be relateable because of their own experience that in some cases were similar to the panelists.
“I have been slacking for a while it was really a wake-up call; I shouldn’t take what I have for granted,” said Aden Jemaneh, 15 from Uplift Infinity.
Speaker Naugles had been in and out of foster care but she told scholars she always knew education would be what would get her ahead. Naugles admitted she had downfalls but she knew she would make it. The businesswomen advised students to surround themselves with people who are going to push them to be better and to encourage them.
The scholars digested the speakers advice and personal stories during lunch at the UTD. Road to College counselor at Uplift Infinity, Andrea Villanueva said the opportunity to attend not only made an impact to those that attended but also created a ripple effect. Villanueva discussed with scholars, how do we take the message back and how do we carry it back and create a culture of excellence.
The seminar enlightened scholars to the “bigger” picture from academics to life. Panelists encouraged scholars to support each other as young women.
“Instead of joining many clubs, grow into leadership opportunities,” one panelist told the scholars.
For many of the scholars they will be the first in their families to graduate from college and admit after the conference they began thinking of the impact they are making in their own families. Scholars said it is important for them to to encourage their siblings and friends to work hard.
Uplift Scholars from several campuses in the network including Uplift Hampton, Uplift Infinity and Uplift Luna were just some of the Uplift schools in attendance. The seminar also included schools from Grand Prairie ISD, Richardson ISD and KIPP.
Young African-American men and young Latino men will attend the seminar in December.