June 21, 2012 — A group of 20 high school juniors from across the state will gather at the University of Utah June 27-30 to take part in the inaugural Black Student Leadership Institute. With the theme “I Am Therefore We Are, We Are Therefore I Am”, taken from an African proverb, the students will form teams to explore the current state of African-Americans in health, politics, pop culture and sociology—key issues affecting today’s Black/African American community.
Members of the media are welcome to attend the closing keynote and ceremony of the institute on Saturday, June 30. Regent France Davis will offer the final keynote address at the end of the luncheon, after which there will be a Rite of Passage recognition ceremony for the participating students. The keynote will begin at roughly 1:15 p.m. in the Ballroom of the Olpin Union Building on the University of Utah campus.
The idea for the institute came from one of the objectives of the Utah State Board of Regents—to increase participation in higher education—with the recognition that to do so, particular attention must be given to Utah’s ethnic minority populations.
At the suggestion of Regent Davis, also pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Salt Lake City, a gathering of faith leaders from Utah’s African-American community and presidents of Utah colleges and universities was convened to discuss how to increase college enrollment of Black/African-American students and to collaborate on ways to achieve that goal. From the discussion, the University of Utah developed the idea of the four-day institute on its campus.
In addition to the 20 students attending, invited guests include representatives from each student’s high school administration and counseling office, as well as their faith leaders, families and community leaders. Members of the University’s faculty and current students will act as mentors during the institute. The agenda will afford an opportunity for a rich, multi-faceted conversation about issues affecting black students today.
A goal of the institute is to use the discussions and examination of the issues as a means to improve the students’ communication skills and enhance their leadership potential. A symposium on the last day will feature presentations from each team on what they have discovered during the four days.
“Giving children a reason never to give up is the most powerful thing any hero or mentor can do for a child,” wrote one student in her application to attend the institute. “From there, their best will become even better, to the point where it is more than their best—there’s greatness and promise for future generations.”
The institute is modeled in part after a similar, highly successful program that has had proven results at several institutions across the country. “I’ve seen the impact of this type of program and I’m thrilled we’ve been able to develop it here at the U,” says Jennifer Williams Molock, assistant vice president for education and community partnerships for diversity. “It enriches both the students and the community and is exactly what the University of Utah is about.”
The institute is free for the high school students, who applied earlier this year by submitting transcripts, a letter of recommendation and a personal statement. Currently the institute accepts a maximum of 20 participants, but the program is expected to grow in the future. The Black Student Leadership Institute is sponsored jointly by the University of Utah Office for Equity and Diversity and the Division of Student Affairs.
ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF UTAH
The University of Utah, located in Salt Lake City in the foothills of the Wasatch Range, is the flagship institution of higher learning in Utah. Founded in 1850, it serves more than 31,000 students from across the United States and the world. With more than 72 major subjects at the undergraduate level and more than 90 major fields of study at the graduate level, including law and medicine, the university prepares students to live and compete in the global workplace. Learn more about all the U has to offer online at http://www.utah.edu.