Kean University delivered a message of empowerment to more than 100 young men recently at the University’s inaugural Generation 2 Generation Male Empowerment Symposium, held at the STEM Building.
Through focused workshops, panel discussions and a rousing address by motivational speaker and Kean alumnus Baruti K. Kafele ’86, the youths — each joined by a parent or mentor — heard that “Improvement begins with ‘I’.”
“I am definitely excited by what I am seeing,” said Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D., during the event hosted by the University’s Division of Entrepreneurial Education Initiatives (EEI). “When you see young men and their mentors and fathers here, learning together, to me it means we are sharing an important message, and these families are building a future upon it.”
The symposium was the first Kean EEI event to draw together large numbers of boys and teens in grades 6-12 to share in the message that hard work, hope and focus will lead them to success.
Fathers and mentors were included because family plays “a critical role,” said Kean Senior Vice President for EEI Sancha K. Gray, Ed.D.
Generation 2 Generation is so important because, for students, the outcome is improvement,” she said. “Today was impactful because we have the students and caregivers in the room together to chart a course for the future.”
A similar event for young women is taking place later this month.
Attendees learned about financial literacy and mindfulness and watched with rapt attention as Kafele, a former Newark principal who is now an author and nationally known educational speaker, took the stage dressed in a professional Negro Baseball League jersey, carrying an armload of books.
“You can’t lead if you don’t read,” he said.
Kafele urged the boys and young men in the audience to work hard and stay focused to achieve success, to channel purpose, drive and determination, and to believe in themselves to reach their goals.
“You were born with the responsibility to be the best you,” Kafele said. “As you move forward, you’ve got to see yourself being phenomenal. You’ve got to see yourself being extraordinary at whatever you do. You’ve got to see yourself being a superstar.”
Cristian Young, 15, of Tinton Falls, and his father, Harry Young, called the event outstanding.
“I liked everything, especially the financial literacy portion,” said Cristian, who plans to become a sports videographer. “I plan to go to college for my career, and this helps me with what I want to do to build up to that.”
The audience also included a number of Kean students who served as guides for the visiting boys and men. Among them were Tariq Williams, a senior communication major; Antonio Scott, a freshman communication major; and Quadir Sauls, a junior accounting major.
As college students, they said they found the event valuable, too.
“I learned some things I didn’t know before,” Sauls said.