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Convening Puts Focus on First-Generation Students

DENVER— Providing access and opportunities to first-generation college students is the focus of a three-day gathering that has brought academicians, business leaders, nonprofit and civic organizations here from across the globe to strategize solutions.

Carol Carter is the Founder and CEO of GlobalMindEDCarol Carter is the Founder and CEO of GlobalMindED

The GlobalMindED conference kicked off this weekend with the theme, “Bold Leaders Delivering Inclusive Outcomes.”

Now in its fourth year, the annual convening focuses on bringing various stakeholders together to advance inclusive outcomes on campus by helping first-generation students develop and cultivate their leadership and professional skills.

According to Carol Carter, the founder and CEO of GlobalMindED, the convening is dedicated to bringing together practitioners and thought leaders to help make first-generation to college, underserved and non-traditional students employment ready and promotable so that they can become leaders and key drivers in the economic future.

The challenges facing first-generation students are not unique simply to the U.S., but are a global issue, said Carter.

“The goal is to amplify the work of individuals and organizations through cross-sectoral collaborations,” said Carter. “Bold leaders can deliver inclusive outcomes through collaboration and shared vision. Through innovative partnerships, wide-reaching network and cross-sectoral collaboration, every student can access the informal education, professional skills, resources, networks, mentors, experiential learning and social support they need for upward economic mobility.”

A variety of panels, workshops and plenary sessions focused on topics ranging from gender equity and closing the equity gap at Minority Serving Institutions to the increasing challenges that continue to impact African-American and Latino males.

Representatives from the College of the Mainland in Texas discussed an innovative program designed to help under-prepared students excel in college writing courses by embedding professional tutors into courses to help students succeed.

Saray Lopez, assistant dean of community outreach and inclusion at the University of Phoenix, said the work at the for-profit college has been focused on “meeting students where they’re at and helping to meet their needs.” She said the university has created successful partnerships designed to enhance workforce development.

Dr. Reagan Flowers, Founder and CEO of C-STEM, an organization designed to inspire the next generation of innovators and thought leaders by engaging them in “hands-on projects, solving real world problems to encourage entry into the talent pipeline, bolster self-confidence, and foster a well-rounded mastery of the areas of communication, science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said colleges and universities have to work alongside business, government and other sectors to address inequity issues.

Not working together means “perpetuating the same problems,” said Flowers.

Leah Porter, a rising senior at the University of Colorado Denver said that she found the conference useful. As an Asian-American, nontraditional, first-generation student, she has an interest in continuing on to earn her Ph.D.

“This conference has been mind blowing,” said Porter, 40, a single-mother. “A lot of institutions talk about first-generation students, but there’s not a lot of action or support systems out there. Here, you feel like you’re being supported.”

Stephane Lessard, Consul General of Canada in Denver said that training a spotlight on first-generation students has to be seen in a global context.

“With a focus on education pipeline, GlobalMindED is about inclusion and diversity. And that is part of Canada’s DNA, which is why we consider our country an immigrant country,” said Lessard.  “It’s an economic necessity for us, and makes the fabric of our society much richer.”

Jamal Eric Watson can be reached at [email protected]. You can follow him on Twitter @jamalericwatson 


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