By Michael Daniels
Journal Staff Reporter
On January 26, The University of Toledo’s office of Toledo Excel and the UT Joint Committee presented the 35th Annual Conference for Aspirating Minority Youth. This year’s theme was, ‘Onward and Upward, Persisting Through Barriers and Obstacles’.
Indeed, a fitting topic for the ambitious minority youth of today. Like most of us, when we dream our dreams, we only dream the good things. We never imagine something bad might happen, or something or someone may try to stand in our way. For many this is knowledge that only comes with age and experience.
This year’s conference sought to give the young folks a heads up, as well as, solutions to the problems they might face as they venture into the world to pursue their goals in life. Understanding that those situations which seem impossible to solve at the time and try to block your way can be overcome with persistence and sheer determination is valuable knowledge. Knowing these facts and other methods of survival is definitely an advantage in life and that was the message of the day.
Keynote speaker, Dr. Terrell Strayhorn drove this messages home even more during his address, telling the students, “You must learn how to persist. Persisting requires us as aspirating minority youths to be willing to change and adjust to our environment. You must persist through barriers.”
Adding, “Someday you will encounter something or someone, who tries to keep from reaching your goals. You must understand that you must not let anything or anyone come in between you and that, which you are designed to do. Persist through the barrier and discover your why. Why you are here and what you are designed for and find your inner light. As we pursue our greatness in the face obstacles and barriers never forget that deep inside if us there is a light that will always be there, and even in our darkest hour we must turn inside and connect with that light and let that light shine,” he said.
Dr. Strayhorn is the Founding Chief Executive Officer of, ‘Do Good Works Educational Consulting LLS’. He has written over 10 books and is internationally recognized as a student success scholar and the foremost authority on issues of equity and diversity.
Following Dr. Strayhorn, in the second session of the program, was speaker and UT graduate Christopher Scott who showcased his new book, “7 Secrets to Surviving College.” Mr. Scott who has a Masters of Education Degree said, ‘I’m here today to uplift and teach our high school and college bound students the 7 secrets that it takes to navigate college and be successful in this world. I say take no losses in life. Mr. Scott is the founder of Reach to Teach National, an organization that provides motivational service to youth across the country.
An estimated crowd of over 350, seventh through 12th grade students, parents and members of the community attended this annual free event.
Knowing that his students would benefit from the Excel program, Dr. Romulus Durant, Toledo Public Schools (TPS) superintendent, brought students from his TPS program called, ‘Young Men and Young Women of Excellence,’ a peer to peer mentorship group.
Dr. Durant said, “I try to get our students involved in community activities so they can become a part of the community, and one day contribute even more to the community as an adult. We want our youths as well as all youths to continue to aspire. We are TPS proud and very excited to be here today.”
Toledo Excel was established in 1988 and is a community project bringing various groups together for a common purpose. That purpose is to help underrepresented students including African, Asian, Hispanic and Native Americans go to college, be successful there and graduate.
The first Annual Conference for Aspirating Minority Youth was held in 1985 and continues to grow in popularity ever since.
The current Director of Toledo Excel is David Young.