Graduate Opportunities Conference Inspires IUP Students

Posted on 5/2/2017 11:53:29 AM

IUP students attend Graduate Opportunities ConferenceFor a group of IUP students, a recent trip to Philadelphia for a conference on graduate school opportunities was a life-changing experience. Eight IUP students participated in the 2017 Graduate Opportunities Conference on April 21–23, accompanied by two graduate students who represented IUP at the college fair held during the event.

Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Hughes created the conference almost 30 years ago, and it continues to inspire minority college students to pursue their dreams.

The trip was funded jointly by the office of IUP President Michael Driscoll and the Center for Multicultural Student Leadership and Engagement.

The conference was loaded with guest speakers and information sessions that inspired the students to look beyond their undergraduate programs and see what opportunities exist for master’s and doctoral degrees, as well as law and medical schools.

“This was one of the best experiences I’ve had in college,” said senior Amirah Macon, a criminology major from Cheltenham.

“I think we all had epiphanies this weekend,” Macon said. “We all said that we heard something from a speaker that made something click in every one of us.”

The IUP students agreed that they were impressed with how the conference speakers linked the value of a graduate degree to their present career, and how no student should feel limited in the options they have to earn one.

Keynote speakers for the weekend included actress Sheryl Lee Ralph-Hughes, attorney Barbara Arnwine, physician and CEO Therman Evans, and relationship therapist Argie Allen-Wilson. There were also information sessions and panel discussions on topics such as taking graduate admissions tests, potential careers, networking, and financing a graduate degree.

President Driscoll Theo Turner students attending Graduate Scholars ConferenceIn addition to Macon, IUP students attending the conference included Rebecca Colón, of Philadelphia; Essence Davis, of Chester; Trishana Gordon, of Philadelphia; Selena Hawkins, of West Chester; Terraine Johnson, of Philadelphia; Geo Ramsey-Miller, of Munhall; and Diamond Walker, of Philadelphia.

Two graduate students, Terrance Hudson, of State College; and Jamaal Gosa, of Linden, New Jersey, represented IUP at the college fair, which was held on the final day of the event.

“It’s very gratifying to know that the students had a remarkable set of experiences that will help to transform their next steps for their futures,” Driscoll said. “This program could not happen without the ongoing support of Senator Hughes or without a great team in IUP’s Student Affairs Division to coordinate this effort.”

Students from more than 20 other colleges and universities attended the conference.

Johnson, a hospitality management major, said the weekend’s activities energized him for what possibilities lay ahead.

“The focus was to reach out to minorities, to come together and get together people who are in the same situation,” he said. “This experience will definitely help empower us for the future. It showed me options. Sometimes you want to do something, but you don’t know the right path. Now we know.”

Miller, a graduate student in the IUP Student Affairs in Higher Education program, said he gained reassurance that he is headed in the right direction.

“The conference speakers and programs showed us what’s possible,” he said. “Now I know it’s something I definitely want to do. It reassured me that I’m doing the right thing.”

Colon said she was so inspired that she wants to help to make sure other students next year get the opportunity to attend this annual conference. To do that, she has started working to create a fund that would pay for IUP’s representation next year and in many years to come.

“I just want to make sure this continues,” she said. “I want other students to go to this.”

Hawkins said she would encourage any minority student to attend.

“If anyone asks me,” she said, “my advice is go! You have to go.’”

Photo Information:

Photo 1 (group at table): Amirah Macon, Rebecca Colon, Selena Hawkins, Diamond Walker, Trishana Gordon, Geo Ramsey-Miller, Terraine Johnson, and Essence Davis

Photo 2: Michael Driscoll, IUP president; Theo Turner, director of the Center for Multicultural Student Leadership and Engagement; Dayona Whittaker, Diamond Walker, Amirah Macon, and Terraine Johnson; Rebecca Colón, Selena Hawkins, and Essence Davis