Two Tuskegee University upperclassmen from the esteemed Andrew F. Brimmer College of Business and Information Science showcased their ambitions and talents at The Opening Act HBCU Conference in New York City this past November.
The conference, which catered to students interested in careers in technology, media, and entertainment, saw junior Melody Nicole Wilson of Birmingham and senior Dajah Lasenberry of St. Charles, Missouri, represent not only their university but also Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the nation.
This annual event, organized by the New York-based 2020 Shift and backed by the music-, podcast- and video-streaming giant Spotify, convened for its second edition from November 2nd to 4th, 2017. The conference invited 90 students from various HBCUs, ranging from sophomores to seniors, who demonstrated interest in the tech and media sectors.
Throughout the conference, students had opportunities to interact with industry executives and thought leaders.
These interactions provided a realistic glimpse into prospective career paths in tech and media. Beyond that, the attendees gained insights on strategies to realize their career aspirations.
As part of the immersive experience, they toured offices of industry giants like Spotify, Buzzfeed, NBC Universal, Nickelodeon, and learned about various career opportunities in these firms.
For Wilson, a sales and marketing major with aspirations of working in corporate public relations or as an artist/media relations specialist, The Opening Act conference perfectly aligned with her career aspirations.
“The conference reaffirmed my interest to work in media and entertainment,” Wilson noted. “I hope this experience encourages other arts enthusiasts to consider Tuskegee, and inspires current students to seize opportunities like this because you never know who you’ll meet.”
Outside her academics, Wilson is actively involved in the Tuskegee University Golden Voices Concert Choir as the president, she also serves as the secretary/office manager for the University Ambassador program, and holds leadership positions in several other organizations.
Meanwhile, Lasenberry, a computer science major, found that the conference reinforced her career goals and choice of major.
She noted, “The Opening Act conference inspired me to pursue a career that interests me. I aim to be an animator and use my computer skills in that role. Attending the conference has given me hope and confidence that I can achieve this goal.”
Currently, Lasenberry represents her fellow students as a senator for Tuskegee’s Association for Computing Machinery, and is a member of both the National Society of Black Engineers and the National Society of Leadership and Success.
The Opening Act HBCU Conference served as a platform for these Tuskegee University students, and others like them, to gain practical industry insights, network with professionals, and take a step closer towards their ambitious career goals.
Their participation and positive experiences at the conference illustrate the diverse opportunities that Tuskegee University and HBCUs at large offer, preparing students for success in industries beyond the traditional STEM fields.