Ryan Gresham, class of 2003 who currently serves as linebackers coach for the Wittenberg football team, opened the conference with tips on performing well academically on a predominantly white campus. After graduating from Eastmoor High School in Columbus, Ohio, which has an African American population of 98.5 percent, Wittenberg provided a change for Gresham.
"Wittenberg is a microcosm of what the real world looks like," he said. "I heard so much from my parents about stepping outside of what you know, and Wittenberg gave me that opportunity."
The social aspect of living on a predominantly white campus was presented by Shakeer Abdullah, class of 1999, who is currently the director of multicultural affairs at Capital University's School of Law. Abdullah encouraged conference participants to broaden their horizons and to try things they aren't used to as a way to expand their world view.
"The social aspect is one of the most important things," he said. “You’re only in the classroom a small portion of the time, and the rest of your learning is done outside of the classroom."
The afternoon session consisted of a panel discussion titled "Our Image: The Black Brother, The Black Sister, The Black Bond," led by Erik Larkin, class of 2009 from Cincinnati, Ohio, Kiara Heidenreich, class of 2010 from Dayton, Ohio, Lamarr Lewis, class of 2005, and Mabel Jackson, associate professor emerita of English. Topics included Barack Obama’s candidacy for president, the role of the black family and media portrayals of African Americans.
Conference festivities were completed with a special dinner, a musical performance by Springfield group Quiet Storm and a night of dancing in Wally's Pub.
"I think that the conference went really well," said Alexandra Edwards, class of 2007 from Cleveland, Ohio. "Gresham and Abdullah provided first-year students with a lot of information that will enhance their experience on campus and allow students to get involved and create their own atmosphere."
Written By: Erica Strauss '08
Photos Submitted By Forest Wortham
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