Young men and women at the Brotherhood and Sisterhood Leadership Conference March 25 were told by community leader Kimberly Salmon to find their own path. “Then, no matter which way you go, it’s your way. And no matter what you aspire to be, don’t allow anyone to ever stand in your way and take it from you,” she said.
Salmon, assistant vice president for community relations at the Hanover Insurance Group and a passionate volunteer in the Worcester community, was keynote speaker at the event, which brought young people together at Worcester State to uplift and motivate them and set them on a successful college path.
The conference was designed to empower high school students, college students, and professionals through team building workshops and to foster a connection to a network of first generation and/or ALANA/BIPOC community (African, Latine, Asian, and Native American and/or Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). The conference theme was ‘United on the Road to Excellence.’ Attendees came from schools throughout the Worcester area and beyond, including an enthusiastic contingent from Springfield Technical Community College.
Laxmi Bissoondial, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Worcester State, welcomed the attendees and issued a call to action. “You came today, on Saturday morning, to be here to celebrate with one another,” she said. “And so, my call of action to you is to continue that good work. We have a lot of great programs and great majors at Worcester State, and we want to see you here in any capacity that you can. You matter to Worcester State and your impact here is equally important and significant so I hope that you can continue bringing your authentic self to spaces like this.”
President Barry M. Maloney noted that last year’s inaugural Brotherhood Conference had been expanded this year to include young women. “And so welcome to all our sisters here in the room. Thank you for joining us,” he said. “To those who identify as ALANA/BIPOC as well as anyone who may be the first in their family to attend college, today’s event is especially for you. My hope is that you will leave here today with a healthy dose of inspiration, and that you will come away with some hands-on tools that will help you not just in preparing for and getting through college, but also in your life beyond college.”
Anita Konneh, a junior at North High School, said the conference gave her some good information about applying for college and how to have a better experience when she gets there. Isaiah Goodwin, a sophomore at Abby Kelley Foster Charter School in Worcester, said the event helped him explore options for the future. “It helped me with things I’ve been wondering about for a while, like what the opportunities are and what you can do and learn, and how you can do new things like study away and study abroad,” he said.
Robert Jennings, outreach/wrap-around coordinator for the Office of Multicultural Affairs, made a special presentation to Al Pettway ’94, coach of the North High School Polar Bears, a basketball team that recently won the first Division 1 state title in Worcester’s history. Pettway attended the conference along with several members of his winning team.
The conference offered not only inspiration, but also hands-on workshops and activities geared to helping students of any background succeed through high school and college. Students heard from Worcester State alums who have faced similar challenges and have graduated and gone on to graduate school and career success.
“Worcester State gave me a lot,” said Anna Johnson ’22, a former Worcester State student trustee now in her first year of law school, who participated along with several other alumni on a panel titled ‘Bridging the gap: navigating higher education and beyond.’ “Giving back to the community was something that I saw a lot of when I was here, and I think it’s important to continue that. As a minority person, once a door has been opened for me, I want to leave it open for the next person so coming back here today was my way of leaving that door open for someone else.”
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