On Wednesday, Oct. 8, the Black Student Union collaborated with the Black Alumni Association to put on the third annual “Young and Successful,” a Black Homecoming Event. The program was aimed at giving current EMU students a look into the lives of real-world professionals.
Brandon Britt, one of three co-chairs for Black Homecoming and Committee Service Director of BSU, helped put on the event.
“The Alumni Association reaches out to us every year to essentially establish that they want to have the event,” Britt said. “There is an amazing amount of them that want to participate. We’ve had so many great people in the past.”
This year, the panel was comprised of four alumni, including Myra Lumpkin, a 2012 graduate who works as a Program Coordinator for Greek Life; Jason Cantrell, a 2010 graduate who is a Product Development Specialist at United Shore Financial Services; Brittni Brown, a 2013 graduate who opened her own public relations firm called The Bee Agency Public Relations; and Herman Moncure, a 2005 graduate who serves as the Business Manager for Detroit’s Solid Waste Department.
Marcus Sumrall, a 2008 graduate who now works as a regional recruiter for City Year, moderated the program.
“I think it’s always nice to come back and engage with other alumni as well as students who are getting ready to venture out into the real world,” said Lumpkin. “It gives [alumni] the opportunity to see what has changed and gives [students] the opportunity to ask questions about life after graduation.”
The alumni spent the first half answering pre-written questions posed by Sumrall which helped each one paint a picture of his or her background and give students an idea about their individual EMU experience as they shared their biggest accomplishments, their personal definitions of success, and how the university got them to where they are today. The second half was driven by the students, as they asked candid questions.
Through this format, a wide array of topics were covered, from money management and loan repayment, to what an elevator pitch is, to small and personal pieces of advice.
Before the panel broke to give students a chance to network and mingle, they gave some parting advice. Some kept it simple and straightforward.
“Make it happen,” said Cantrell.
Others left the students with something to think about.
Moncure outlined the journey students are currently on as they leave their childhood state of dependence and transition into a new state of independence. He hopes they will aspire in their adulthood to states of interdependence, in which they will rely on peers as well as themselves.
While alumni shared their experiences and handed out advice, their participation also gave students more than just a networking experience.
“It is good for people to see that they can invest in themselves despite the disadvantages they are held at,” said Brad Bryant, a junior majoring in Urban Planning.
This self-investment idea carries into helping students believe they can actually achieve something.
“This event is important because it gives students the chance to see the perspective of an alumni. How they made it through college and how they became successful in the different roads you can take to accomplish your goal,” said Domonique McGhee, one of the co-chairs for Black Homecoming and the president of BSU.