07 30 2016
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The Wake of Vanport

The passage to higher education program at Portland Community College holds its first Black Student Success Summit, March 1, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at PCC Cascade Campus, 705 North Killingsworth St., Portland.

This first of its kind special event serves a unique program supporting students of African descent at the community college, says coordinator Noni Causey.

“When I started this program, someone said to me, Noni, students have the right to fail,” she says. “I said, that might sound true for you, but it doesn't feel true for me.

“Students have the right to succeed -- we have an obligation to help students be successful.”

The event features speakers, workshops, student panel dialogues, college recruiters, vendors, and live performances by Bobby Fouther and Kemba Shannon dancers.

Keynote speaker is Daymond Glenn, PhD, the vice president for Community Life, chief diversity officer, and assistant professor of Urban Studies at Warner Pacific College in Portland.  Glenn has held administrative and faculty posts at various colleges where he has taught undergraduate and graduate courses on multicultural education, educational theory, and race and education.

“We're stepping outside of the box, and talking to students about what they need,” Causey says. “We want them to engage with us. What's going to help you get through higher education?”

Rather than the usual series of lectures from a podium in an auditorium – there is some of that as well – this event is built around speed dating-style discussions bringing together small groups with community mentors who have gone through college and come back to help a new generation do it too.

“Usually people go to a conference, they listen to a keynote speaker, they go to workshops,” Causey says. “And then they get home and they put everything away, they don't revisit it.

“We know that African Americans are very relationship-oriented people. So we've come together as a group of professionals, and educators, to say – look, this is not working for a lot of students. How can we do something different?”

Workshops include financial literacy and avoiding student debt; navigating the higher education system and when to use advising, and counseling; and more.

The event will include seven tables, each with an educational mentor  and with rotating groups of students.

“We are going to have one on ones with small groups of students, no more than six or seven at a time, to talk about college from their perspective,” Causey says. “In 30 minutes you get to get up and switch and go talk to another professional.”

Causey says the community mentors have been chosen from the ranks of academia as well as the small business community.

“They're coming back to help people who look like them, because they know the struggles that they went through,” she says.

“And so the summit is totally based on relationships, it's based on trust, and it's based on community.”

For more information go to www.pccpassage.com.

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