By Umu Graham, Academic Advisor, Bridges
On Thursday, March 19, 2015, Bridges to Success presented its first annual Male Symposium entitled “The Making and Modeling of Mature Men: Man Up and Realize Your Potential.” The object of the event, which was geared toward the male students of Valencia College’s Bridges to Success program, was to educate and promote responsibility and leadership. Throughout the spring semester, Bridges students have engaged in several male bonding symposiums. This event gave 144 male students the opportunity to interact with one another and discuss some of the hardships and challenges they are faced with being young men in today’s society.
The symposium featured a panel of diverse and well-rounded professionals and community leaders who readily provided real-life details of what makes a young man a leader, not just at home, but also in his community. Their testimonies provided the students with the confidence to ask questions and identify the steps needed as they mature into society’s next leaders. Free HIV testing was also conducted throughout the event; more than 50 students participated in testing.
East Campus Dean of Learning Support Leonard Bass was the event’s moderator and offered this insight about the symposium: “The First Annual Bridges Male Symposium was a huge success. This event provided a great opportunity for the young men in Bridges to make important personal connections with leaders in the community and each other. During the event I was reminded of the African proverb that says, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far go together.’ It was great to see the guys encouraging one another and building community for themselves at Valencia. Kudos to the Bridges leadership team for a powerful event.”
Daryl Davis, one of the panelists and director of institutional research, added, “I definitely thought that it was a very powerful symposium. I like the fact that these young men were able to listen and ask questions of guys who probably have experienced the same experiences that they are going through now. Not only did it focus on education and career success, we were able to discuss real-life social issues also, which was very powerful. From my conversations with a few of the students afterwards, they seem to really enjoy hearing about the experiences we had to overcome to get where we are today. I really do admire the Bridges to Success program and everything that it is doing with the students.”
With a strong commitment from the Bridges to Success students, this event has the potential to become the base of an impactful mentoring program. The Making and Modeling of Mature Men has the ability to be the foundation of what Bridges to Success is all about.