Monday, June 1, 2015

Project ENRICH Ends 2014-15 On An Exciting and Uplifting Note

Bisa Williams, center, with Basileus Brian Long and chapter 
Gamma Pi's flagship Scholarship program, Project ENRICH, continues to grow by leaps and bounds. That was evident by a Standing Room Only crowd that gathered at the Thurgood Marshall Library Auditorium on the campus of Bowie State University for the official end-of-year salute on Saturday, May 30. It was one of the most memorable closing programs in years.

One of the things the program has focused on more in recent years is providing students a more direct link to the outside world and the place they can have in it through hard work and study. To do that, Project ENRICH has brought in a number of speakers who are accomplished in their field. This year's closing program keynote speaker, Ambassador Bisa Williams, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. State Department, underscored that effort in a huge way, with a rousing and inspiring presentation that got the students excited about foreign service and had parents thinking abut just how wide open career options can be when students think "outside the box," and explore career areas that aren't typically introduced to young African American youth.

Ambassador Williams talks
Judging by the questions, students appreciated most her candor in describing the challenges she overcame and how she became a successful diplomat without going through school studying to be a Foreign Service officer. The daughter of a doctor and social worker from Trenton, NJ., she was educated at Yale undergraduate and studied Comparative Literature in gradate school at UCLA. Her message to students was that diplomats have varied interests and academic backgrounds and there is no one-size-fits-all career path. She invoked the name of many African Americans who have served in the diplomatic corps, including Gamma Pi's own Teddy Taylor, now stationed in Cape Town, South African.

"No one ever mentioned to me the idea of being a diplomat. I of course knew there were such things as diplomats, but that was never in any of the conversations in any of the social circles I was in," she said.":I learned about the Foreign Service by reading an ad in Black Enterprise magazine."

As always, the Project ENRICH students were impressive. Showing growth, maturity and self-assurance that maybe was not a part of their makeup when they started the program, the students -- representing all grades -- amazed and encouraged their families about their future when some of them took turns at the podium to provide an overview of their experience.

Full house looks on at Project ENRICH
Perhaps no one was more proud than Bro. Willie Hines, who has rejuvenated Project ENRICH in recent  years with a creative approach to running the program that focuses on getting more practical information to students and parents to help them not only study better, but be more informed with inside knowledge about the college selection and application process, choosing a major, choosing a career and becoming well-rounded individuals with a sense of community responsibility and a global view. Under Bro. Hines, Project ENRICH has expanded beyond just helping students with academics.

There is plenty of video evidence of  the success of Saturday's program. Click here to watch the first 40 minutes of the live broadcast on Gamma Pi's Ustream TV Channel.

You can watch Ms. Williams' speech in its entirety here on Gama Pi's YouTube channel:
Also, Bro. Brett Blake provided more than 30 photos from the closing program.

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