Black Student Union holds conference to inspire high school seniors

By By Jade Gray

By Jade Gray

Seniors from local high schools were invited by the U’s Black Student Union Wednesday to familiarize themselves with the U and what routes they can take toward secondary education.

The high school senior conference was the union’s first, and the goal was to show black high school students what educational paths are available to them at the U and how to go about considering careers through going to college.

The seminar included speakers from admissions and financial aid, giving students information on how to apply and receive help. Representatives also explained the various scholarships available to freshmen and ethnic students.

Kurt Brown, a second-year medical student at the U, was one of the speakers at the conference. “My high school counselor told me that medical school was unobattainable, or something even to consider,” he said, describing his experiences in getting to where he is today.

He told students to press on through negativity and criticism to reach their goals.

“Don’t see yourself as part of the negative stereotypes; reach for the sky and focus on positive influences in your life,” he said. “For every negative comment I’ve received, I’ve had many more positive influences.”

Brown also told the youth to draw inspiration from families and to take advantage of the new opportunities available to them that weren’t available to their parents and grandparents.

Professionals from the community gathered in a panel to answer questions from the group. The panel included experts from the fields of business, law, social work and medicine.

They each shared their own experiences in getting to college and having successful careers, and all agreed that family is the most important form of support to get you through those tough times.

Simone Fritz, adviser at BSU, emphasized to the potential Utes the need for family.

“Whether you decide to go to a community college, a historically black school, join the military or go to the U, you need that support from your family and friends.”

Panel members discussed how working in hard, low-paying positions had motivated them to consider college when many of them had been told that such a level of education wasn’t an option.

Irene Ota, associate instructor in the College of Social Work, said she was inspired to go to college after a counselor told her she couldn’t because her family couldn’t afford it.

But she recommended that students “apply for every scholarship there is, whether you think you’re qualified or not.”

Ota also said working through college part-time works as well, and if students can’t finish college in four years, it’s OK, because the goal to finish will be so rewarding.

Two hundred and sixteen black students were enrolled for the 2006 Fall Semester, making up 0.7 percent of the total U population.