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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Minority leaders attend conference

 
 

Amid suspicions of the lack of diversity at Texas A&M, the University hosted the 24th annual Southwestern Black Student Leadership Conference. The conference, originally created by Aggies, welcomes African-American students from across the country to strengthen professional skills and help unite the black community.
The conference began Thursday and ended Sunday. Conference staff members, like sophomore allied health major Phylea King, said it’s beneficial to bring African-American students together to make better leaders in the black community.
“Being an African-American student on A&M’s campus, the black community is not as unified as it should be,” King said. “This is one way of uniting us all, taking the things we learned here, apply them, and make our communities better.”
Geron Fuller, sophomore human resource major and assistant director of marketing for the conference, said the theme, “In Pursuit of Refinement,” was chosen because of the focus on improving participants and their communities.
“Each day we should try to refine ourselves into a better person,” Fuller said. “This year we said from the start we’re in pursuit of bettering ourselves as individuals and also as a collective community.”
The conference not only focuses on the black community, but also provides participants with opportunities to improve leadership skills alongside of professional skills.
“We want to promote leadership, awareness and entrepreneurship,” Fuller said. “We have a career fair, which had 55 companies and graduate schools this year, and some of them were actually hiring on the spot.”
King addressed the issue of diversity at Texas A&M, saying its absence is not the biggest problem.
“People don’t know how to deal with diversity,” King said. “Once you encounter it and deal with it and approach it in an appropriate way, I think that will be a stepping stone to us improving diversity and promoting it on this campus.”
Twenty-five cadets were also in attendance, as part of Brig. Gen. Joe E. Ramirez’s, Class of 1979, attempt at increasing diversity in the Corps of Cadets.
Mari Spangler, senior animal science major and member of Squadron 3, said Ramirez worked with the newly formed Cultural Awareness and Diversity Expansion Team, CADET, to provide all cadets the opportunity to benefit from the conference.
“The Corps sponsored us to come, we did not have to pay for it, and so that’s a blessing and stuff like that should be taken full advantage of,” Spangler said. “We’re going to graduate and have to go out into the real world and work with people that look nothing like us, who don’t understand us, comprehend us. We’re going to have to be able to relate to them and become professional.”
Spangler said the conference provides all students, regardless of race, with the ability improve cultural awareness.
“For other people here that are different minorities or even Caucasian, it’s life changing and eye-opening,” Spangler said. “The world doesn’t look like A&M, the world is multicultural and diverse.”

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