Making Something Out of Nothing

UMKC hosts African American and Latino Male Empowerment Summit

More than 250 young men gathered at the University of Missouri-Kansas City last Friday for advice, encouragement and support at the 2017 African American and Latino (AALo) Male Empowerment Summit.

Area high school students networked with students from Metropolitan Community College and UMKC, and listened to presentations from UMKC staff, faculty, alumni and people from the Kansas City community.

The idea for the summit rose out of UMKC’s desire to address the disparities in recruitment and retention of African American and Latino males, to and through college. Sessions covered at the summit included developing a personal image, recognizing signs of depression and anxiety, the definition of masculinity, the misconceptions of the black male, UMKC STEM programs, the impact of myths on men of color, becoming an effective communicator, becoming your own boss and college tips.

Kansas City native and entrepreneur Chris Goode delivered the keynote presentation, “Making Something out of Nothing.” Goode is founder of Ruby Jean’s Juicery, a Kansas City business named after his late grandmother.

Goode wasn’t at the summit to preach to the young men. He was there to share because he identified with the young men in the room. He didn’t have a trust fund. No one gave him money to attend college. No one gave him money to start his own business. But he had a dream.

“I’m just like y’all. I’m just a little bit older.”

His message was one of possibility – about turning dreams into reality. He did just that. His dream drives him every day.

In addition to having the dream to own his own business, Goode dreams of walking into his mother’s office, thanking her for everything that she’s done for him and taking her home. He dreams of the words he’d speak to her, “Mama, this is your last day of work. You’ve labored hard enough.” With determination, Goode believes that dream will also become a reality.

Goode had a few suggestions for the young men in the audience. Have faith, dive in and plant seeds.

“Find a deeper level of belief in yourself,” Goode said. “You have to find that faith in yourself because a small amount of faith can carry us to our destiny. Everything I’ve accomplished has come on the heels of faith.”

When Goode talked about diving in he said there’s no need to “test the water to see if it’s cold. It’s cold! When you jump in, you automatically adjust. But the fear is crippling.”

Goode left corporate America three years ago. At the time, he asked himself, “What am I passionate about? What do I want to do?” He found his path was right in front of him. Goode told attendees the path could be in front of them as well, or they may need to start asking themselves questions. But he said they need to have faith and be willing to challenge themselves.

“Complacency and fear will cripple growth,” Goode said. He encountered many obstacles when he decided what business he wanted to pursue. But he overcame the complacency.

For those in the audience considering college, Goode said, “You can do it! But you have to challenge yourself. Do it now. College was a moment where I got to know myself. It was one of the best things that happened in my life.”

Goode’s last suggestion was to plant the seeds that will create relationships.

“There are people in the room who can help you. Connect with them. In order to move ahead, you have to plant seeds. People intersect at all points in our lives. Every person you meet, you’re planting a seed.”

As his presentation came to an end, Goode asked the men to consider a decision about something, anything, and to write it on a piece of paper.

“Everyone in the room is capable. What matters is what’s on the piece of paper.”

The AALo Male Empowerment Summit was a collaboration between the UMKC Offices of Multicultural Student Affairs, Admissions and the Division of Diversity & Inclusion.

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