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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Urban Scholars Map Their Futures

Urban Scholars Map Their Futures
Emilly Taranto-Kent

The Urban Scholars Program at UMass Boston presented their seventeenth annual student conference in the Campus Center Ballroom on February 17. The event’s theme was, “Drawing Your Own future.”

The Ballroom was alive with high-spirited and positive energy as program participants from the Jeremiah E Burke, Dorchester Educational Complex, and the South Boston Educational Complex high schools and the Gavin, Cleveland, Lewenburg, McCormack, Rogers and Wilson middle schools joined together for the occasion.

The Urban Scholars program, which started at UMB in 1983, aims to provide academically talented students with the skills and motivation necessary for the achievement of their potential. The program’s goal is to prepare students for a successful college experience.

The event opened with a presentation in which each member of the conference’s production committee shared a quotation that held a special meaning with the audience.

The recitations set a positive tone for the day’s workshops. The conference attendees then formed groups and moved into various sectors of the Campus Center to participate in a series of workshops.

The “1, 2, Step into the Dancing World” presented by Ricardo Foster, a noted choreographer and dancer, was especially well received. This native Bostonian has worked with top acts including Beyonce Knowles and En Vogue. Ricardo shared a bit of his history and led the workshop participants in some moves.

Richard Cohen, a consultant and trainer in the fields of mediation and conflict management, led a “Conflict Resolution-Finding Common Ground” workshop in which he laid out practical techniques for resolving problems without resorting to fighting, intimidation, or name calling. The workshop centered on rethinking tense situations and finding common ground that leads to a peaceful outcome.

Rev. Berry-Burton and Celeste Gutierrez facilitated the “How to Choose the Right Mate” workshop which dealt with various aspects of beginning and maintaining a safe and happy relationship. Issues including compatibility and domestic abuse were handled in a warm, yet, no-nonsense manner.

The “Lights! Camera! Action! You’re On TV!” workshop offered advice on finding a career in the world of broadcasting. Susan Wornick, award winning television newscaster, described her career and offered practical advice for those who would like to explore the world of television.

Jeffery H. Dorenfeld, an associate professor of Music at Berklee College of Music, held a workshop entitled “How to Get Into the Music Business.” It provided a view of the various job opportunities in the music industry and the preparation that will enable one to obtain a career in that line of work.

The various workshops were well received and a high level of participation took place.

“Everybody got inspired and pointed in the right direction,” said conference producer, Mina Cao.

After the workshops concluded, participants gathered in the Main Ballroom for the conference’s keynote address delivered by Ronald L Walker, executive vice president and regional executive for the Sovereign Banking group.

Mr. Walker shared what he considers to be the secret of luck, that elusive quality that brings success and happiness to those who possess it. “Luck, is the confluence of preparation and hard work,” said Walker.

Walker further noted that the best possible preparation is a strong education. He stressed the importance of the youth role in today’s community initiatives.

The Keynote speaker’s speech capped off the day’s activities with a positive message. David Koah, a UMass Boston Senior and conference producer said, “By working hard and working together we put on a successful event.”

The program’s success was attributable to the hard work of staff member Gail Gallagher and student conference producers.

Over the past twenty years Urban Scholars has grown to serve, on average, 60 high school and 30 middle school students annually.

Since it’s inception, Urban Scholars has enrolled over 1400 students. The program boasts that more than 85% of its students continue on to complete undergraduate education.