Students Attend Conference at UNI

Academics, News, Rotator — By on March 1, 2018 12:39 pm

Mayor of Waterloo opens the UNI African American conference. Photo by Josh Jordan

Keynote speaker Dr. Gail L. Thompson at the UNI African American conference. Photo by Josh Jordan.

By Brian Harris

The University of Northern Iowa hosted the UNI Conference for African American Children and Families, the theme for the conference was pass it on. The theme meant to pass on ancestry to children and how to continue to pass on African American heritage.

The two keynote speakers were Dr. Gail L. Thompson, and the mayor of Waterloo Quentin Hart. The keynote topics were about how people can make a difference in an African American students life. Dr. Gail L. Thompson’s main focus was equity, the quality of being fair and impartial. Thompson was stating that African American students should be treated the same as other students and should receive the same education possibilities as other races.

“I really enjoyed the conference and the discussions that we were all capable of having,” said senior Ben McGuire.

“I enjoyed the keynote speaker,”instructional coach Tawnua Tenley said. “I made sure to make note of some of her books so that I can read them. I appreciated getting to meet the other educators and people from the area. I was also surprised by the amount of women and people there who had doctorates.” 

“I liked the lunch break because we were able to talk to some of the ladies who had doctorates and learned their points of view and be able to talk about our experiences and what we learned about African Americans and Africa in school,” said senior Josh Jordan.

There were multiple breakout sessions and these breakout session covered a plethora of topics that dealt with the social injustices of the African American community. One of the bigger breakout groups covered mental health. The two panel leaders talked about how African Americans struggle with mental health, how the populous can help them, and show them that getting the help they need isn’t bad.  

“ I liked a couple of the breakout sessions, but I feel like some of the others didn’t really connect or relate to the theme as a whole. They very briefly connected one or two things about the theme but never went in depth on how they connected,” said Jordan.

The closing speakers talked about how the African American minor crime rates in Iowa have been plummeting. All four of  the panel leaders had some type of role in the Iowa criminal justice system. Three of the four were judges and had been working with juveniles in the court system in Iowa for many years.

“My biggest takeaway was that we as people were given a good start to work from but, we have a lot of work that we need to do make this place better,” Tenley said.

There were many takeaways from the conference and it was a huge eye-opener showing everyone what was going on in the world and African American communities.

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