PATRICE RENEE HARRIS │
ST. THOMAS – The University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) community, engaged in eye-opening discussions with African American entertainment leaders, philanthropists and entrepreneurs on Thursday 23rd April at the Sports and Fitness Center.
The Andrew Young Emerging Leaders Legacy Lecture series 2015 was held for the first time at the University of the Virgin Islands in April 2015.
The event held under the theme: “Building dreams through leadership,” featured presentations from Tracy Broughton, Ms. America 2011; Thomas W. Dortch, Jr. Founder & Chairman, NBCA Hall of Fame; Demetria McKinney, Actress and Singer; Emmanuel Lewis Actor and Philanthropist; Shanti Das, The Hip Hop Professional.
The lecture series are held annually at a chosen Historically Black College and University (HBCU). The event, organized by the National Black College Alumni (NBCA) Hall of Fame and the UVI Division of Students Affairs, was held at UVI to celebrate the success of Ms. Elisa Thomas, the first Miss UVI to capture the NBCA Hall of Fame title.
Thomas Dortch, founder and chairman of the NBCA Hall of fame said that the journey to the Virgin islands is expensive, but it is important to include UVI in the HBCU family. He encouraged the students present to be more proactive, seek out opportunities and demand more from their leaders and administrators.
Dortch also shared his experience as a successful entrepreneur and urged students to pursue a degree in career areas that are in demand. He said while it is important to follow your dreams, students should consider degrees in Technology and Science. He urged the students to take control of their destiny.
Ms. America 2011, Tracy Broughton encouraged the students present to organize more social activities and not fixate on what the school does not have. She encouraged the students to utilize what the university currently has even if it’s just a basketball team.
The panelists mainly answered student questions ranging from funding cut for HBCUs, social media, African Americans in corporate America and the entertainment industry. They also shared personal struggles, successes, and genuine words of encouragement to the students.
Broughton, used her experiences as a disabled female to encourage the audience to not be defined by their current situation. She shared personal stories about rape, disability, homelessness, and kidnapping. She credits these experiences as the worst experiences in her life and attributes them to her success today.
Commonly known for his role in ABC’s sitcom Family Matters, Emmanuel Lewis, dressed in a blue UVI Pride Day t-shirt and a St. Thomas, USVI straw hat, expressed his love for the Virgin Islands. He described St Thomas as his home away from home. He said he could not wait to enjoy a home cooked meal from ‘roun de field’.
The lecture series aims to inspire and encourage African American students to reach their full potential. The night’s discussion included topics such as Black Lives Matters, Credit Worthiness and Job Possibilities, Voting & Civil Rights, Domestic Violence, Lyrics being used by recording artists and entertainers, Social media and how it impacts one’s professional and personal future.
The event included a question and answer section moderated by UVI alumni, Rick Grant.