Sankofa partnered with the Salisbury Center for Career, Professional and Experiential Education, the Office of Intercultural Affairs, Office of Advancement, and African and Latino Alumni Association (ALAA) to host the Colleges’ first Multicultural Career and Networking Conference on Saturday, March 5. Beginning at 9 a.m., the event included several panel discussions and workshops with alumni and alumnae of color, and featured a keynote address from Kay Payne ’73, professor of communications sciences and disorders at Howard University.
“The inaugural Multicultural Career and Networking Conference had an impressive lineup of Hobart and William Smith alums from a broad range of careers, interests and experience levels,” explained Director of Career Services Brandi Ferrara. “The range of discussions provided students with insider information on a variety of fields, while learning about the career paths and inspirational lives of more than two dozen alumni and alumnae of color.”
Afrika Owes ’16, who spearheaded the conference, and Chevy Devaney ’95, director of multicultural affairs at Keuka College, opened the conference with a welcome address.
“I felt it was necessary to give back,” said Owes of founding the event. “One thing I felt students of color needed was the support of the alum network. I hope that current students can gain a sense of hope and inspiration, to follow the meaning of Sankofa which is to link the past and the future to make a better present.”
The conference included a “Life After HWS” panel, moderated by former HWS Trustee Margarita Ramos ’85, global human resources compliance executive at Bank of America. While at HWS, Ramos was a sociology and education double major, and a member of Koshare and Hai Timiai.
Following the discussion, students had the option to choose from five concurrent workshops, including panel discussions on entering graduate or law school, business careers, or non-profit careers; a Networking 101 panel discussion; and a young alum round table discussion. The sessions ran from 11 to 11:45 a.m. and from noon to 12:45 p.m. in Stern Hall and the Vandervort Room.
Payne offered her keynote address at 1 p.m. during a luncheon in the Vandervort Room. As a student, Payne was part of the largest minority class ever admitted to the Colleges at that time, and helped found what is now Sankofa. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in communication sciences from Howard University, where she serves as a professor.
At the luncheon, Payne was presented with the Alumna Achievement Award, the William Smith College Alumnae Association’s highest honor. It is awarded to an alumna who, by reason of outstanding accomplishments in her particular business, profession or community service, has brought honor and distinction to her alma mater.
While the event featured alumni and alumnae of color, all HWS students were encouraged to attend the conference. “Everyone can gain something from this event; it’s just as important for white students to see successful people of color,” said Owes.
See the full schedule of speakers and events.