Hundreds gather for 'Intimate Conversations with Greatness'
April 5, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas -- Just a few days ago, Michelle Carter was standing in front of 20,000 people, throwing a shot put at the legendary Texas Relays.
Carter shined at the annual track and field meet as a high school superstar at Red Oak, and later thrilled the same crowd as a Texas Longhorn. She thrilled again this weekend, and is thriving in the sport she loves as a professional athlete. But for how long?
"My event," Carter said, "you can't do it forever."
And so on Sunday, Carter and hundreds of others just like her, crowded a ballroom at the Four Seasons, soaking in the lives and lessons at Intimate Conversations with Greatness: A Minority Mentorship Symposium.
The symposium is the realization of Women's Track and Field coach Beverly Kearney's dream -- a dream to educate and inspire minority students and student-athletes as they prepare to transition into the corporate world.
Guests were treated to the "Divine Divas" and "Gents of Distinction" brunches before the symposium. Civil servants then joined with entertainers and entrepreneurs to impart wisdom on how to attain personal and professional success. Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, Eve, Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas), Malcolm Jamal Warner and Wilhelmina Ruth Delco were just a few of the speakers.
Carter attended this event when she was a UT athlete, but says it meant more to her this time.
"Because it hit really close to home," she said, "these are things I am going through. I really can relate to it now."
Carter trains full-time in Dallas and will compete at the upcoming Drake Relays, but she also recently began taking classes in make-up artistry. It's an art form that interests Carter, and she's trying to evolve that into a potential career after she's finished throwing professionally.
Leland Hardy, one of the event's featured speakers, is someone Carter can relate to -- and aspire to be. Once a professional boxer, Hardy also trained for life beyond the ring. He's now fluent in five languages, is an accomplished entrepreneur and has masterminded a successful Web site.
Hardy encouraged the young audience to set goals and make a plan to achieve them. He explained that if a student wanted straight A's, just get to know the teacher -- build relationships and learn from those who can impart wisdom to you.
Beijing Olympian and UT swimmer Dave Walters was moved by Hardy's message.
"It really opened my eyes. I feel it broadened my horizons," Walters said. "I have to look beyond swimming. You have to think about the world, and this really made me think about ways to give back to it."
Jordyn Brown was just as moved. She competes in the same event as Carter once did for the Longhorns, and Brown recently finished fourth in the NCAA Indoor Championships with a lifetime-best throw in the shot put.
As a junior, Brown still has time to improve in her field, but Sunday reminded her it's also time to be thinking about the corporate field. Brown was thankful for the voices that reached out to her.
"One day," Brown said, "I want this to be me."