Education pep rally highlights Symposium's second day
April 8, 2011
This began with the subtle wonder of an intimate conversation. Texas Women's Track and Field coach Beverly Kearney wanted a setting where her student-athletes could learn and glean from the those that had achieved professional excellence - and their experiences along the way.
That conversation became known as the Minority Mentorship Symposium, but now in its fifth year, it's become so much more than talking points.
On Thursday night, a crowd of hundreds packed the Grand Ballroom at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center on the UT campus to hear from Kearney and her notable guests, and then on Friday, almost 1,000 AISD students, mostly from the Neighborhood Longhorns Program, packed Gregory Gym for the first Pursuit of Excellence Youth Leadership Rally.
An assortment of speakers, included former women's basketball coach Jody Conradt and 100-meter national champion Alexandria Anderson, encouraged the students to use education as the key to their future.
"My motivation was to always touch as many lives as possible," Kearney said. "You want to give these children one special moment that could define where they go. We're utilizing this one moment to create moments in time. That's what it's all about."
On Thursday at the Symposium, Kearney hosted Intimate Conversations with Greatness . The occasion brought together "Divine Divas" and "Gents of Distinction" in a setting that motivates and also illustrates to college-age students models of success.
UT president Bill Powers and former state representative Wilhelmia Delco joined other speakers like hip hop legend MC Lyte and Cookie Johnson, clothing designer and wife of NBA Hall of Famer, Magic Johnson.
"It's really a wonderful thing, because it's all about encouraging and educating young people, and giving them the hope to go out and pursue their dreams," Johnson said. "My husband and I came from meager beginnings, so to hear our story is important. These kids need examples. To see somebody like Bev is to be inspired."
In fact, it was Kearney, and her reputation, that inspired MC Lyte to attend the symposium for the first time. She sat on leadership panels on Thursday night and also provided some musical entertainment at Friday's youth rally.
"You've got to meet Bev. She does such great things for the kids and the community. That's also my mission in life, which is to do more than just be. I'm happy to be here," MC Lyte said.
Among the hundreds of audience members on Thursday night were many UT student-athletes. Women's Basketball freshman Tiffany Moore attended the event for the first time.
"It's very inspirational. As college students, it's great to hear from people who have had experience and success. It's great to have them here as mentors and examples," Moore said.
After five years, the growth of the Minority Mentorship Symposium is evident. Extra tables had to be set up on Thursday night to accommodate the audience, and it now includes youth-specific events like Friday's pep rally for education. Kearney, however, is motivated to still do more.
"I'm proud of the feeling. When you see the smiles on the faces of people who came to give and the people who came to receive, you realize everybody gave and received equally," Kearney said. "Everybody gained energy from everybody, and that's what I'm excited about."