My #JRFfirst: The Annual Mentoring & Leadership Conference

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Marian Wright Edelman once said “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Attending the Jackie Robinson Foundation’s Mentoring and Leadership Conference (MLC) in March 2016, was #MyJRFfirst experience which changed my life forever! At the MLC, I was surrounded by people of color, each changing the world in their diverse fields. Meeting these individuals and seeing their passion, resulted in my understanding that I had the power and the responsibility to achieve my dream for a better world!

At the MLC, I connected with hundreds of JRF Scholars and Alumni doing exceptional work in their career pursuits. One Scholar I developed a rapport with, Jabari Ture Brooks, grew up on the South Side of Chicago and studies neuroscience at the University of Miami. I was blown away Jabari’s warm and humble personality, along with his outstanding accomplishments at such a young age. I was in awe when he described how he participated in an internship doing neuroscience research in a lab, while still in high school! Jabari was one of many friendships I formed with fellow Scholars at the conference. In addition, I gained wisdom from Alumni and made professional connections which may grow into potential internships, jobs, or career partnerships. Fellowshipping with JRF Scholars and Alumni was extremely meaningful, because it was the first time I engaged with hundreds of youth of color, with high aspirations like mine, empowering me to achieve my dreams.

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Trey and fellow scholar, Paa at JRF’s MLC.

During the MLC, there are multiple panels and workshops offered for Scholars to learn about a variety of career fields. Many company representatives shared their life experiences in order to provide examples of their career journey. Shawn Miles, MasterCard’s Executive Vice President of Public Policy, discussed achieving financial success by making smart investments. Dr. Yohuru Williams, widely regarded as one of the nation’s premiere history educators, talked about mastering a job interview. After describing my work as a documentary filmmaker, Williams said “I want to keep my eyes on you, because I believe you are going to do great things in the future.” Dr. William’s comments lifted my spirits and when later, I saw him appear on a segment of “The Nineties” on CNN, I felt blessed that someone of his statue saw greatness in me! Meeting African Americans who are leaders in prestigious careers, revealed that I could do anything I set my mind to.

Finally, at the MLC, JRF holds a “JRF’s Got Talent” show, where Scholars can witness and celebrate their unique talents. I was able to perform my original song, titled “Inner Self Railroad,” which is my tribute to the African Americans in history who paved the way for all of us. Rachel Robinson even attended the Talent Show and I met her after the performance. She gave me a hug and kiss on the cheek, and said, “Thank you so much for that. It was beautiful!” That moment of meeting an American treasurer and the Founder of JRF is a moment that I will never forget!

MLC so inspired me that when I returned to my campus, I created a student organization at my university, called Y.E.S. G.I.V.E. Like MLC, it’s purpose is to expose underserved students to role models and organizations, fueling their passions to address global issues and do more. With the experience of MLC, and the opportunity to fuel my passion into Y.E.S. G.I.V.E., I thank the Jackie Robinson Foundation for helping me see what I can be!

Written by: Arthur Carlisle
headshot3 Arthur (Trey) Carlisle is a sophomore at Soka University of America where he is studying Social Behavioral Science. He was born and raised in Los Angeles, California (specifically Monterey Park). He loves non-profit work, motivational speaking, and working with children. In addition, Trey loves using the arts, dance, documentary filmmaking, singing/rapping, and music producing (to name a few) to spread positive messages and take action against global issues.