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My Experience at UNCF's Inaugural Convention

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As a student of the illustrious Morehouse College, located in the historic West End of Atlanta, vowing to dedicate my life to be being a servant leader to the global community has continued to accentuate the numerous experiences I have had while attending my chosen institution of higher education. My in-depth understanding of this "ultimate intention," of sorts, also bears its significance in the abiding motto of Morehouse College: "Et Facta Est Lux," translated as "and then, there was light." We, as student apprentices under the tutelage of whole-brained, ethical and truly caring professors, are exposed to living examples of the leadership needed all over the world to deliver hope to the hopeless.

As a UNCF Social Entrepreneurship Fellow, this summer I have the opportunity to intern at Friendship Public Charter School, a part of the Washington, D.C. public school system that operates six public charter schools and manages four turnaround schools. As preparation for my internship this summer, UNCF provided me the opportunity to attend a Leadership Conference hosted at the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton's Washington, D.C. office. My experience at this leadership conference has exposed me to several students and successful executives who in some way or another embody a similar mindset on the state of the world around us to the one that I have formed through my past experiences and the supplementary experiences I've had while in college. It is gratifying to have been one in a distinct group of African American college students from all around the country. We were chosen to travel to one location with one goal in mind: change the world for good. Once all targets were identified and the bar had been raised, the best and brightest ideas began to flow endlessly. Activities such as simply discussing the many issues that plague the African American community to creating for-profit business plans with non-profit intents in order to heal the ills of the world stretched our minds to encompass the possibilities in social entrepreneurship. This type of leadership conference was unique to say the least. But, just as much as it was unique, it inspired all who happen to be associated with it to such a degree that I undoubtedly know many of us remain awe-struck to the amount of talent that goes unnoticed within many African American youth. I will forever hold this conference near and dear to my heart.

Such an experience means a lot to me, an awkwardly skinny kid from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The connection between the words "global impact" and "African American" failed to dawn on me before I arrived at Morehouse College. Even as a student (before UNCF's Leadership Conference), of course I was able to fathom the successes of a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but it was the process necessary for an African American to change the world entirely that was perplexing. Now, looking back at the UNCF Leadership Conference, and the events that had preceded, I now understand that it is events like this that spark the mind, the heart, the soul and change the world, forevermore. Even while in the midst of the conference, I frequently had out-of-body experiences where I would say to myself, "Wow! I cannot believe I am here right now!" I hope one day to take the lessons that I've learned while at the leadership conference back to my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as the awkwardly skinny kid who grew up and changed the world for good.

Thanks to UNCF's Leadership Conference, I will go on to graduate from Morehouse College in the spring of 2013 and be of service to those who need the essential "food" to nourish the heart, mind, body and soul. I could acquire a job post-graduation and work to climb the corporate ladder, earn a formal title, and the type of self-centered wealth that comes with it. But I want more than just that. I seek challenges. I seek change. And that's what I will chase, endlessly, in the name of those in need. I plan to attend Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University (in my hometown of Pittsburgh) and work to earn my master's degree in business and finance. While there, I plan to work to restore the Pittsburgh Public Schools system to the prominence of yesteryear. I feel it is my duty to give back to a system that has given me so much. Thanks to UNCF, I now have the confidence to help those that need it most, while serving the world at the same time.