OU Alum & Students Link Up For Star-Studded Conference

Trustee Trish Treadwell (right) mingles with OU students during an alumni event last fall.

Last week, Oglethorpe alumna and trustee Trish Treadwell ’96  sponsored several OU students to attend the Seventh Annual Spelman College Leadership Conference for Women of Color.  The two-day intergenerational event attracts thousands of women of color from around the world, and this year, Treadwell accompanied five young future leaders to the conference:  Stephanie Perello ’12, Zena Stephens ’13, Keturah Thomas ’13, Erica Blake ’13, and Malika Whitley, a 2011 OU graduate.

This year’s conference theme, “Reset: Sustaining Women for 21st Century Leadership,” stemmed from the concept that women of color, in particular, feel obligated to take care of others—often at the expense of themselves.  The modern woman juggles her responsibilities as a student, as a family member, and as a business and community leader. More than 40 professional men and women spoke at the conference, including CNN journalist Soledad O’Brien, Olympian Bonnie St. John, and Kimberly Davis, president of JP Morgan and Chase Foundation.

To Malika Whitley ’11, who is a member of Oglethorpe’s 2011-12 IDEX Fellowship for Social Enterprise, many of the speakers’ points hit home.  As an IDEX fellow, she will be challenged to create ways to improve India’s Affordable Schools.   “I enjoyed all of the speakers but what Soledad O’Brien had to say really struck me the most,” said Whitley.  “She has just finished a new documentary about motivating students in failing schools, and she spoke about giving children resources and incentives to come to school.  Many people in both the United States and in India view school as a luxury, but by giving students something to show their parents—something to attest to the benefit of schooling, we can change this notion.  I plan to take these ideas with me when I go to India.”

Throughout the conference, the young women took in advice about branding, taking care of themselves professionally and personally, and training their minds to be resilient.    Continue reading

Summer Break the OU Way: Malika Whitley

While the stereotypical college student may spend their summer days sleeping, surfing the net, and watching re-runs, OU summer breakers are make the most of their vacation—while learning at the same time.

Malika hard at work

That’s exactly what Malika Whitley ’11, did going into her senior year.  She told us about her experiences way back in the summer of 2010 when we interviewed her about working at the National Black Arts Festival, a non-profit arts education program that focuses on the work of artists throughout the African diaspora. The interview from that summer follows:

Q:  What do you do at the Arts Festival?

Malika:  I am a production assistant.  The NBAF is a special events company basically, and I mostly work online doing marketing and development work…pretty much everything that is needed.  I do a lot of editing for the videos that we put up on the website,  and I schedule and screen artists for the bi-weekly podcast.  I am also responsible for marketing our projects online using social media.

Q:  You seem like a very busy intern.  What is the best part of your job?

Malika:  I get to meet some very engaging people.  They are all artists!  So you never know who you will meet and what kind of insight they can give you.

Q:  Have you met anyone of note?

I have worked with Jasmine Guy, (star of the 1990’s sitcom, “A Different World”) who is our stage production consultant.  I was also able to meet the actor Malcolm Jamaal Warner, and Jason Oor, the founder of FrontJazzKafe’.  It’s a concert series event in Atlanta at the Tabernacle.  He pretty much originated the concept of having different performances at the same time; like singers, dancers, speed painting, and poetry all on one stage.

Q:  How did you hear about this internship?

Malika:  I got this internship through a program that former Mayor Shirley Franklin started, and it was for people in Atlanta Public Schools.  It allowed you to get internships and scholarships for college.  I was connected to NBAF the summer after I graduated high school and never left.

Q:  What’ s the best part of the internship?

I get paid to listen to music and network.  I am also getting the opportunity to learn about my field, which is something I think is really important because experience in my opinion is just as important as the degree.  Even on “slow” days or during times when I just don’t have a lot of work, I am learning just by being in the environment and watching others.

Q:  You know I have to ask about the worst part…

Malika:   Of course!  Not having enough money to get things done.  You know, as an intern you are not paid a whole lot so you often struggle to make ends meet.  Just paying for transportation and food, even.  But I still think it is the best opportunity because I am gaining so much real work-place experience and building relationships for a well-connected professional future.  You can tell that everyone wants you to suceeed.

Entering her senior year, Malika took her intern experience to the next level.  She traveled to South Africa to spend the rest of her summer working for the City of Cape Town as a special events intern.  She looked forward to working someplace independently where she doesn’t know the main conversational language (Afrikaans) and attending World Cup events.

Now that’s what we call a summer vacation!

See Malika’s blog post from here Cape Town, South Africa internship here!

Starting the Dialogue: The Progress of Black America

Oglethorpe University’s Black Student Caucus presented “Starting the Dialogue: The Progress of Black America” panel discussion on Sunday, February 28, in Lupton Auditorium, in observance of Black History Month.Oglethorpe University Black Student Caucus

The program featured a discussion among Ronda Racha Penrice, author of African American History for Dummies, Frank Smith, Jr., former DC councilman and director of the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum, and Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, Emory University School of Law professor and human rights activist. Dr. Kendra A. King, assistant professor of politics at Oglethorpe and assistant director of the Rich Foundation Urban Leadership Program, moderated.

Immediately following the panel discussion, OU’s Black Student Caucus hosted a reception honoring Elisabeth Omilami, executive director of Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless, and presented her with the first annual Making a Difference in Our Community Award. The reception was held in the OU Museum of Art.