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Students Personalize Black College Fund

January 27, 2014

By Heather Peck Travis

Students Personalize Black College Fund
Kadrien Wilson, 19, and Markus McKinney, 18, say the Lina H. McCord Orientation in Nashville, Tenn., taught them how to become their personal best through communication, networking and leadership skills training. They were two of 19 college students and graduates who attended the Jan. 8-12 training session.

College students and graduates gained confidence as they improved their skills in communication, networking, and leadership during a five-day training session in Nashville, Tenn.

Nineteen young adults attended the Jan. 8-12 Lina H. McCord intern orientation to “sharpen and enhance the skills needed to win friends, influence people, and become their personal best,” said Cynthia Bond Hopson, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s assistant general secretary of  the Black College Fund and Ethnic Concerns.

Orientation participants were current students or graduates of one of the 11 historically Black United Methodist-related colleges and universities supported by the denomination’s Black College Fund, one of the churchwide apportioned funds. Each year, college staff nominate students to be Lina H. McCord interns for the 35-year-old program named for the first executive of the Black College Fund.

The leadership program is designed to build young leaders “so that the people called United Methodist can see they are investing in the hopes and dreams of young people [through the Black College Fund],” Bond Hopson said.

Once selected, interns complete short-term assignments of traveling to promote the Black College Fund. For each speaking engagement, interns receive an honorarium, which is applied to their college tuition or school-related expenses.

Upon successful completion of the first round of assignments, the interns become ambassadors, a permanent designation which allows continued travel on behalf of the Black College Fund.

During the January orientation titled, “A More Excellent Way,” the 12 Black College Fund ambassadors and seven potential Lina H. McCord interns toured six United Methodist agencies and Meharry Medical College and listened to a variety of speakers, including Bond Hopson.

“These [young people] put a face to apportionment dollars,” said Bond Hopson. “Many times people don’t remember the details of the fund, but they do remember what a positive impression these young people made. Black colleges are worth the investment. Since 1866, these colleges have been setting out great expectations for students and providing positive opportunities students may not get in larger public schools.”

Lina McCord Group Photo
Students and recent graduates of the 11 historically black colleges related to The United Methodist Church were in Nashville for training on how to serve as goodwill ambassadors to the church for the Black College Fund. The students are shown with BCF staff and one of the speakers for the event. Photo by Donnie Reed. 




‘Pushed to Greatness’

On Sunday, Kadrien Wilson, one of the orientation participants, spoke during the morning worship at Gordon Memorial United Methodist Church in Nashville. The Lina H. McCord intern thanked the congregation for supporting the Black College Fund and students like her.

A member of St. Matthew United Methodist Church in Greensboro, N.C., Wilson, 19, is a sophomore at Bennett College in Greensboro, one of the 11 historically Black United Methodist-related colleges.

“At Bennett, girls are transformed into empowered women,” she said of the women’s college. “Regardless of our background, we are pushed to greatness.”

During orientation, Wilson said, “I learned how preparation is the key to excellence. No matter what I do, if I’m prepared, I can put my fears aside and move forward in confidence.”

An education major, Wilson is a recipient of the Kim and John Wright Scholarship of Phi Delta Kappa International and plans to complete her scholarship obligations by teaching in low-income schools for three years upon graduation. After that experience, she hopes to volunteer with Teach for America, an organization that helps low-income children complete their education.

Visiting Gordon Memorial Church with Wilson was Lina H. McCord intern Markus McKinney, 18, a freshman at Rust College in Holly Springs, Miss.

“Orientation taught me to feel the speech inside of me, believe in what I’m saying, and not just read words on a paper,” said McKinney, who aspires to be a broadcast journalist or a United Methodist pastor – or both. “I also learned that in order to be a leader, I must first know myself.”

A member of St. Mark United Methodist Church in Chicago, McKinney said he chose Rust College because the size of the school and atmosphere “felt like home and offered excellent education opportunities.” He noted that his grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles are all Rust College graduates.

*Travis is a freelance journalist living in Glasgow, Ky.