Zoe Walker |
ST.CROIX- The young men of the local high schools came out by the busloads, to participate in the fifth annual Man- Up Male Empowerment Conference, Wednesday, Feb. 11 on the Albert A. Sheen Campus grounds.
The conference, hosted by the University of the Virgin Islands, the V.I. Education Department and V.I Human Services Department, is an initiative that was started by the university’s president, Dr. David Hall, as a way of helping young males to realize their full potential and attract them to the university.
Christopher Gardner, the author of the best-selling book, ‘Pursuit of Happiness’, was the keynote speaker of the conference. His rags-to-riches story has been an inspiration since the inception of his book, which was later adapted into a movie starring famous actors , Will Smith and his son, Jaden Smith.
Gardner gave the young men an opportunity to ask him questions, which included, “Where did you go to college?”
“I never went to college a day in my life. I went to work,” Gardner said.
Throughout his speech, Gardner paid special tribute to his mother, Bettye Jean, citing her as his main motivation and the person who pushed him toward success. He also showed the young men in the audience a picture of her in his PowerPoint display.
Gardner’s son, Christopher Gardner Jr., was also in attendance.
After Gardner’s speech, the 850 students who were seated under the big white tent on the campus grounds were treated to a performance by local-turned-international duo, Planet VI aka Rock City.
Thomian natives and brothers, Theron and Timothy Thomas, who have written and produced songs for artists such as Nicki Minaji, Chris Brown, Akon, Rihanna and other top celebrities, brought the conference to an end with a performance of their hit songs.