Suffolk Hosts Young Men of Color during Educational Leadership Conference

Boston Public Schools students among those getting a taste of life on a college campus
Mo Cowan
Former United States Senator Mo Cowan shared life lessons and advice with high school students participating in the Young Men’s Passage program

The program also gave the young men the chance to experience college life for the first time –160 of the attendees stayed in the University’s Miller Residence Hall, eating meals in the campus cafes and meeting in the classrooms at 20 Somerset and Sargent Hall. 

"As an institution committed since our founding to access and opportunity, Suffolk is very proud to partner with COSEBOC on this important event," said President Marisa Kelly.  "We are working hard to be sure that we are providing transformational educational pathways to students of all races and backgrounds. Helping young men of color see the possibilities available to them through higher education is critically important, and doing so is part of our commitment to the city of Boston and beyond."

My Brother’s Keeper Boston Director Conan Harris invited more than 100 educators and young men representing the Boston Public Schools 10 Boys Initiative, Becoming a Man (BAM), and Sociedad Latina organizations to participate in the Passage program.

“We chose to work with local groups because we want to make sure that after these kids leave here the work continues,” said Harris.

President Marisa Kelly with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh
Suffolk University President Marisa Kelly with Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh at the conference’s opening ceremony

The program also gave the young men the chance to experience college life for the first time –160 of the attendees stayed in the University’s Miller Residence Hall, eating meals in the campus cafes and meeting in the classrooms at 20 Somerset and Sargent Hall. 

"As an institution committed since our founding to access and opportunity, Suffolk is very proud to partner with COSEBOC on this important event," said President Marisa Kelly.  "We are working hard to be sure that we are providing transformational educational pathways to students of all races and backgrounds. Helping young men of color see the possibilities available to them through higher education is critically important, and doing so is part of our commitment to the city of Boston and beyond."

My Brother’s Keeper Boston Director Conan Harris invited more than 100 educators and young men representing the Boston Public Schools 10 Boys Initiative, Becoming a Man (BAM), and Sociedad Latina organizations to participate in the Passage program.

“We chose to work with local groups because we want to make sure that after these kids leave here the work continues,” said Harris.

Engagement and inspiration

The program included sessions designed to help each student identify his purpose; define and explore the concept of manhood; know more about his rights, responsibilities, and options in life; and develop a sense of community.

A lunchtime talk with William Maurice “Mo” Cowan – a former United States senator and chief of staff for Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and current vice president of Global Litigation and Legal Policy for General Electric – was emblematic of the conference, combining inspirational personal stories with candid dialogue and calls to action.

Cowan discussed his path from rural North Carolina to political and business success, and from losing his father as a teen to finding his own purpose as a father to his two sons. He stressed that “manhood isn’t a destination, it’s a lifetime journey” involving constant choices and decision-making.

When a young man in the audience asked for advice on handling the death of his own father, Cowan encouraged  him to reach out to others for support.

“Sometimes the strongest thing you can do is show someone you have a weakness and need help,” he said, noting situations in his own personal and academic life where that held true.

Cowan ended the talk by challenging each student to connect with two or three new people in the room, and to commit to staying in touch.

A Lasting Impact

“The conference has allowed me to connect with people from other communities who have similar experiences and struggles. It’s been eye-opening as we find out who we truly are and how we can overcome obstacles,” said Maneer, a high school junior.

Izmaya, a 15-year-old from Seattle, relished the sense of community he found through the Passage program. While he’s not sure what area of study he will pursue in college, he’s certain he wants to start his own business someday. He believes the lessons he learned at the conference about making connections and developing leadership skills will help him on that path.

Being on Suffolk’s campus was pivotal for many of the students, who were energized by the conference and focused on mapping out their futures.

“It’s inspirational to be in a college environment,” said Maneer. “It’s propelling me forward to see that college isn’t a distant opportunity, but a very reachable goal if you have the right mindset.”

dorm room in Miller Hall
Students stayed in Miller Residence Hall, taking in sweeping views of Boston while experiencing real campus life

Contact

Greg Gatlin
Office of Public Affairs
617-573-8428

Andrea Grant
Office of Public Affairs
617-573-8410