Students get advice in yearly EMUBA program

The Eastern Michigan University Black Alumni Association hosted its annual “Young and Successful” program on Oct. 20 to focus on successful EMU graduates and their personal stories of entering the job world, giving them a chance to give advice to students. The event took place in Best Hall Lounge from 6-8 p.m. The speakers included Monica Marie Jones, an author, publisher and radio show host; Noel Abdur-Rahim, senior associate assurance practice of Pricewaterhouse Coopers, LLP; Rhea Cooper, a supervisor for Ennis Center for Children Detroit; and Ataul Usman, a human resource generalist at the University of Michigan.

Each speaker had specific topics to speak on, ranging from the power of networking in college to the importance of good grades and developing leadership skills.

Jones spoke first, giving her business card to everyone and talking about her college career at EMU. Jones started Diversion Dance Troupe, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, after being told she didn’t have the “collegiate look” for the EMU dance team. She was also involved in CloseUp troupe, Phi Sigma Pi and other organizations on campus.

She stressed the importance of good grades but related the organizations and connections she made through them to her career today. Jones chose to speak at the program because she “loves to speak and encourage people, and had an awesome experience at EMU.”

Jones gave advice to graduating seniors.

“Don’t assume because you have a degree a job is waiting for you,” she said. “Be creative and look at all of your options.”

Abdur-Rahim spoke next about the perseverance of the college degree by using her own college experience as a reference. Abdur-Rahim went to Michigan State University for her undergraduate degree and EMU for graduate school.

Though she had a rough start with keeping her grades in accordance with her major, she emphasized getting involved in different organizations that relate to a student’s field.

In Abdur-Rahim’s case, she got involved with the National Association of Black Accountants and the Multicultural Business Program, which helped her not only with her grades but also internships and eventually a job. Like Jones, she also gave advice.

“Make an overall impression, and let [companies] know who you are,” Abdur-Rahim said.

Cooper gave her insights on her college experience and told how she wasn’t the most studious while in her undergraduate program. Cooper changed her major 13 times before deciding to graduate with a degree in therapeutic recreation.

Cooper spoke on the power of leadership and work ethic and she also talked about her post-graduation experiences and working in community mental health facilities.

Usman talked about the importance of teamwork, as well as networking and seeking out a mentor to help guide you in life and career-wise. He also touched on financial success, speaking briefly about the importance of credit, IRAs and pension plans. He finished his speech with the quote, “Begin with the end in mind.”

The program ended with a group activity that showed the importance of networking and the president of EMUBA, Karinda Washington, presented the speakers with certificates of appreciation.

Wardell Littles, senior, was able to learn some new things and he was also reminded of things he already knew.

“One thing I learned from this program is that in order to advance in a specific work field, networking is key, it’s not what you know it’s who you know,” he said.

Littles also felt it was important for students to get a mentor.

“I have a mentor in my fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha and a mentor in life,” Littles said. “You have to surround yourself with like-minded people.”

The EMUBA is preparing for its annual $500 book scholarships for EMU students. EMU students can find more information and apply online at

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