For this year’s Collegiate Prep, the annual capstone experience for Boys Hope Girls Hope high school graduates, our collegians met virtually with a variety of professionals, Network team members, and above all, each other. The weeklong conference was designed to build confidence and increase understanding of what it means to go “Beyond All Limits” in the next phase of their journey to success. These aspiring collegians engaged in valuable group discussions and came away from Collegiate Prep inspired and motivated for new endeavors in their college careers and beyond.
Collegiate Prep kicked off with a very interactive presentation by Michele Thornton Ghee, CEO of Ebony and Jet magazines. This was a unique opportunity to connect with a leader who has worked at some of the most powerful companies in the world including WME, CNN, A&E, The History Channel, and BET Networks. Michele shared her story and engaged our young people in a thoughtful discussion on perseverance, the importance of using your network, and giving back to the community. Many of the new collegians asked outstanding questions. Michele’s inspirational talk started the week on a high note and brought home the theme, “Beyond All Limits”!
On Tuesday afternoon, Boys Hope Girls Hope welcomed guest speaker Dr. D’Angelo Taylor, Associate Director of Multicultural Center, University of Southern Indiana, to speak to our collegians about navigating different types of relationships while in college. Many collegians noted that they learned new skills for how to set boundaries, manage friendships, and maintain healthy relationships.
We were later joined by several members of the Edward Jones team—Steve Carani, General Partner, along with Lori Chartrand, Jalyle Taylor, and Jenna King in Talent Acquisition. Steve gave the collegians great advice on using networking and being career-ready. The rest of the Edward Jones team helped steer the group on how to get the most out of their LinkedIn profiles. This helped to better equip them as they transitioned into our annual Collegiate Prep Edward Jones Networking Night! Collegians were able to practice their networking skills by brushing (virtual) shoulders with seasoned professionals, Boys Hope Girls Hope alumni, and volunteers from across the country and in various career roles. We’re so grateful to Edward Jones and team for the generous support of this annual event and to all of our Collegiate Prep volunteers!
Our midweek sessions for Collegiate Prep focused on continuing to build community! Wednesday and Thursday were full of fun activities, including the #KeepingItReal Alumni Panel, where rising college freshmen had the opportunity to ask anything of the Boys Hope Girls Hope Legacy Leaders—all collegian upperclassmen—about college, social life, relationships, etc. This time really allowed everyone to share advice and learn from each other. Some team members shared lessons from their college experience, as well as answered lingering questions from the alumni panel session. The small group breakout sessions allowed this network-wide group from all affiliates to continue meeting their peers and build community within their class cohort.
Two esteemed guest speakers, Boys Hope Girls Hope of Cincinnati Alumnus and Network Board Member Greg Scruggs; and Akberet Boykin Farr, Vice President of Diversity & Social Responsibility at Emerson, kicked off the last day of Collegiate Prep by sharing their inspirational personal stories and message of hope.
Then, it was time for the Legacy Statements by the Boys Hope Girls Hope Class of 2021. Each year, in the spirit of being “men and women for others,” the rising collegians reflect upon their Boys Hope Girls Hope experience, along with their aspirations for themselves, their families and communities. These presentations were once again a tremendous culmination of Collegiate Prep Week.
The scholars devoted great care and thought in putting together the Legacy Statements. Some are narratives about how they felt joining Boys Hope Girls Hope as children. Others are chronologies of their time in the program. Some are poems. Some dive into the emotional stories of what circumstances led to their and their families' need for Boys Hope Girls Hope. All expressed gratitude for how this program has stuck with them through the ups and downs of their lives.
The reading of the Legacy Statements was a time of tears, cheers, virtual claps and thumbs ups! The chat was full of encouragement and appreciation for each other as they sang, recited spoken word, and expressed their amazing hopes for the years ahead! We are truly inspired by the tenacity and determination of these future leaders, and we can’t wait to see all they do in college and beyond!