To inspire, empower and enable. That was the goal of Metropolitan Community College’s sixth annual Am I My Brother’s Keeper Conference.
More than 200 young men of color from high schools across the Kansas City area attended the conference Oct. 25 at MCC-Penn Valley. Students from other MCC campuses also took part. The goal of the event is to create pathways for these students to go to college.
MCC Chancellor Kimberly Beatty and U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Kansas City) were among the speakers. Both related stories about their upbringing and the challenges they faced in getting college educations. Both also spoke of people who helped them along the way.
“College changes lives,” Dr. Beatty said. “If you are going to have a livable wage in this state, you need to have some college.”
Dr. Beatty said she was inspired by her mother, and she talked about the lengths her mother went to to earn her own degree. She also talked about the odds of success without a college degree. But she told students that graduating from college is more realistic than they might think.
“We have financial aid and scholarships. It can be done.”
She also outlined jobs students can be trained for at MCC and the incomes they can expect after graduating.
Cleaver stressed that nobody is in this alone and that students need to help each other succeed.
“Everybody needs somebody,” the congressman said. “Nobody’s your friend who will ask you to do wrong. Nobody’s your friend who doesn’t encourage you to do well.”
Students took part in workshops to learn about programs that can help them succeed. They also learned about networking, motivation and developing leadership skills.