Update to original story: Photos from event
The Augusta University Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the African American Male Initiative (AAMI) hosted the inaugural Future Leaders Conference on Friday, April 22.
AAMI is a comprehensive program for African American male undergraduate students that is designed to cultivate their talents and abilities and to support their academic and future career goals.
Anthony Holland is the program director for AAMI and is involved, along with his AAMI advisory board, in planning and coordinating the Future Leaders Conference.
“Basically, what we want to do is help develop our students as future leaders,” he said. “We want to encourage students to envision their future and develop a working plan toward achieving their goals. We want to provide opportunities for them to explore the academic and social options available to them in the university and community setting and to support student engagement in academic excellence and leadership. As part of the conference, we are bringing in professionals who will talk about their pathway to leadership, the challenges they faced along the way, the decisions they made that helped them overcome those challenges and reach their goals as professionals. Each speaker has a powerful story that we believe our students will benefit from hearing.
All Augusta students are invited to attend the Future Leaders Conference, but Holland and his team are focused on reaching currently enrolled freshman and sophomores.
“Since our highest losses have occurred between the freshman and sophomore year of college, our goal is to partner with each student to help them build strong academic and social support networks that are necessary for academic and career success,” Holland said.
The Future Leaders Conference has also invited local students.
High school seniors are currently making important decisions regarding where to attend college or if to attend college, so according to Holland, the conference is appropriate for them as well.
“We want to reach out to high school students making crucial decisions about college,” Holland said. “African American males are underrepresented in many colleges and universities. We want to see more African American males going to college and becoming successful and understanding what it takes to be successful both academically and socially.”
The conference will feature three keynote speakers and a panel discussion from local leaders.
Yannik McKie is one of the conference’s featured speakers. When McKie was 15, his parents died of AIDS. He started selling drugs and was later incarcerated. Then, he decided to turn his life around.
He will speak to conference attendees about his decisions and the impact of those decisions.
McKie now has his undergraduate degree and is completing his master’s degree. He is an author, motivational speaker, and founder and executive director of the McKie Foundation.
Cory Fleming, former college, NFL and AFL football player, Super Bowl XXX Champion and Arena Football League Hall of Fame inductee, is also a featured speaker. Fernando Velasco, former college football player, current NFL player and founder of the Right C.H.O.I.C.E.S. Foundation, will also present at the conference.
Dr. Anthony Robinson, assistant professor of management and marketing at Augusta University, will interview a panel of speakers about their careers and views on leadership. The interview will be followed by a question and answer session. Panelists include: Clint Bryant, director of athletics at Augusta; Judge Keith Johnson, Juvenile Court Judge for the Augusta Judicial Circuit; and Sheriff Richard Roundtree, Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.
The Future Leaders Conference will take place in the ballroom of the Augusta University Jaguar Student Activities Center on Friday, April 20, from 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Registration will remain open as long as seats are available, and participants are eligible to register at the door. The event is free and lunch will be served. For more information contact Anthony Holland at firstname.lastname@example.org.