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Published:November 20th, 2006 12:15 EST
Councilman Inspires Minority Students

Councilman Inspires Minority Students

By Inactive Writer

Dream as if you will live forever.  Live as if you will die today. " 

Printed on a glass covered paper in the middle of each roundtable, these words propelled minority students to accomplish their goals.

Students gathered for the 12th Annual Minority Achievement conference at the College of New Jersey on November 18, 2006.   Latin Sorority Chi Upsilon Sigma organized the event. 

In an inspirational keynote speech, Councilman Manuel Segura addressed the public:  The best gift that God has given to man is communication. " 

According to Segura, communication commands respect and invites people to listen. 

He cited that the obstacles that women faced in history still linger on in many ways today, specifically in the form of male chauvinism. 

Although he grew up in an environment where women are considered second class, he states, a woman touches something and it turns to gold. "  He explained that no one works better than a woman.    

Segura emphasized the importance of education and said that education in our country is three times as tough as other countries.  He recalled a baseball coach telling him once that he could not play because he was underweight.  Segura followed his dream anyway and encouraged students to overcome the hurdles in their paths. 

Take criticism but grow with it, " he said.

Senior Keith Lucas thought that the Segura`s words definitely encouraged a lot of people to at least try. "

Junior Elisa Torres found it inspiring to see that he overcame so many obstacles. " 

The conference provided many workshops including Surviving College " with Mr. James Boatwright, Director of Academic Support Programs at TCNJ.  For people of color, " he said, each succeeding generation does less well. " 

Another workshop introduced a fellowship program called Minority Academic Careers ".  Dr. Lisa Ortiz-Vilarelle presented herself as living proof that the program works.

Closing speaker and TCNJ alumni Silvia Mazzula shared her traumatic childhood story of crossing the Mexican border which brought her to a successful life as a well known therapist and PhD at Columbia University today.

In Mazzula`s humble beginnings, she first found out about the existence of college in her junior year of high school.  Barriers discouraged her from succeeding, but she pushed her way up to the top.  She warned students that they will encounter glass ceilings in many situations. 

She encouraged students to risk everything " and go beyond what people expect from you. "  She offered solutions such as coming together, using each other, and sharing our stories " and called for unity. 

Mazzula ended the conference with:  I challenge you to hold somebody else`s hand. " 

Note: This article was originally contributed by a writer who is no longer affiliated with theSOP