More than 250 students, parents and community members attended the seventh annual Expect the Great college and career readiness event on October 28, at Westminster College. This year’s event brought together colleges and school districts across the state to provide information and resources about options for college and career opportunities for African, African-American and Black students and communities.
The Expect the Great initiative was designed to increase the number of African, African American and Black students completing high school, enrolling in postsecondary education and persisting through graduation and beyond. In addition to promoting college readiness and success, it has also become an opportunity for cultivating academic, professional and social networks, and building culturally-affirming connections across the state.
This year’s event offered sessions on financial aid, the college preparation process, transitioning from college to career, high school and college planning and scholarships and job search/résumé workshops. The event also hosted a college and career exploration fair, luncheon, keynote speaker, tours and mini “classes without quizzes” on a variety of topics.
“I think for our students, the highlight of the event was the keynote luncheon and activities where students heard the personal story of our dean of students, Karnell McConnell-Black, and then participated in a step-or-stroll performance,” said Dr. Marco Barker, associate vice president and chief diversity officer at Westminster. “As a first-generation college student, Karnell shared his journey toward and in higher education, and I believe his story connected to many of the attendees.”
Participating institutions included Westminster College, Utah State University, Brigham Young University, University of Utah, Utah Valley University, Weber State University, Salt Lake Community College, Snow College and Southern Utah University, as well as Granite, Salt Lake and Davis County school districts.
Later during the day, students from various Utah institutions joined in a synchronized routine involving music, stepping patterns, and hand movements—known in African American culture as “strolling.”
“We received very positive and encouraging feedback from administrators and students regarding the event,” added Barker. “Attendees felt a particular energy and momentum that was affirming and supportive. From workshops to the college and career exploration fair, I think the entire day offered an educational, professional, social and cultural experience for attendees.”
Dr. Tamara Stevenson, associate professor of communication and faculty fellow for diversity, along with Rob Myers, first-year/undergraduate admissions counselor at Westminster, were co-chairs for this year’s event. This is the first time Expect the Great has been hosted at Westminster.
“As a vision, an idea and a reality, Expect the Great is a shining example of collaboration by the state’s colleges, universities and community partners to build, invest and connect with the cooperative goal of educational access and success for Black, African and African-American students and communities in Utah,” Stevenson said.
Expect the Great is an effort that will contribute to Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s goal for at least 66% of the state’s adults (ages 20–64) to hold a post-secondary degree or certificate by 2020 under his Education Excellence Commission.
The 2018 Expect the Great will be hosted by Salt Lake Community College.
For more information, visit www.expectthegreatutah.com.