Event connects students with career professionals

Delvagus Jackson, 45, principal at Parker Bennett Curry Elementary, and Brittany Stigall, 26, Kindergarten teacher at Lost River Elementary, attend the connect event hosted by Black Leaders Advocating for the Community and Intercultural Student Engagement Center. “We are here to provide information on careers in education,” Jackson said. “Education is the most important career that they can go into.” The event welcomed students to talk with professionals about careers and future plans for jobs. “Education is a rewarding career,” Stigall said. Tyger Williams/HERALD

Rebekah Alvey

Students gathered in Downing Student Union Nite Class for the Connect event hosted by Intercultural Student Engagement Center and Black Leaders Advocating for community.

The event offered students the opportunity to talk one-on-one with professionals in numerous fields. Ryan Dearbone, assistant director of college advancement, described the event as a chance for students to network and gain advice from prominent minorities in the community in an intimate setting.

Connect is one of the final events put on by ISEC for Black History Month. Through the other events, Dearbone said students have been able to see people like them in high positions.

“It’s good to hear what they did when they were in your shoes and get words of encouragement,” senior Adeleke Ademuyewo said.

The career fields showcased at Connect were health care, K-12 education, management, finance accounting, education and youth related programming, psychology/counseling and journalism and broadcasting.

Some students focused on one particular career while others were just exploring options. Freshman Emily Jacoby said she is currently interested in pre-vet but wanted to explore other medical fields and options.

“It helps you find out more about yourself and career,” Jacoby said.

Even though there weren’t professionals for every career, students were able to take away general tips. Jacoby said her group emphasized the importance of studying, pushing yourself and connecting with professors.

Delvagus Jackson, a principal at Parker Bennett-Curry Elementary School, said he hoped to offer any guidance and support. Previously he was recognized by Black Leaders Advocating for Community for his 22 years in education work.

He explained that when he was in college and trying to pick a career, he had a lot of questions as well as a lot of support and role models. Jackson said he saw the event as an opportunity to become a supporter and role model for the students.

Sophomore Jada Jefferson isn’t majoring in education but participated in the group with Jackson. She said it felt like he and kindergarten teacher Brittany Stigall were really listening and giving great advice.

Jackson emphasized passion for your career and explained without it you can become overwhelmed, especially with a great task like educating.

“If you have a passion for it, that’s what wakes you up in the morning,” Jackson said.

One of the more popular career groups was Health Care, led by Gloria Merroquin and Yolanda Reid. Reid received her doctorate from WKU in 2015 and is now a nurse practitioner.

She said through her group she could share about a specific path and what it takes to make it in the nursing program, which is increasingly popular.

Reid emphasized the importance of programs like Connect because minorities rarely get to meet African-American professionals in their field. She said seeing people like them motivates students.

Reporter Rebekah Alvey can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].