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Black Alumni Share Career Journeys During Black History Month Panel

In honor of Black History Month, the Intercultural Center, Alumni Engagement & Annual Giving and Career Development hosted an alumni panel, titled, “Persistence and Authenticity: Black Alumni Share Their Career Journeys” on Wednesday, Feb. 15 in the Great Hall.

Madison Latimer, a sophomore political science and sociology student, was the moderator of the event. The panel consisted of Mychal Mills ’11 ‘13M, Amber Brown ’15, Akintunde Obafemi ’17, and Tina Onikoyi ’12 ‘15M as they discussed their experiences transitioning out of college and into their current careers.

Mills is the co-creator of Konscious Youth Development & Service (KYDS), a 501c3 non-profit conscious youth development organization that aims to transform youth, schools, and communities through holistic practices, as described on KYDS’s website.

“Our mission is to transform schools…We plan to make our way around the state to provide social learning, mindfulness, equity, and transformational awakening,” introduced Mills. He also mentioned his position as Lead facilitator for an organization called T.E.L., which stands for Transforming, Education, and Leadership.

Mills discussed his experience entering college and feeling depressed because of his family life. Ultimately, Monmouth’s support, such as Counseling & Psychological Services, helped bring out the best in him. “Finding myself and finding my purpose has been my journey,” reflected Mills.

Brown was likewise grateful for the support she received from Monmouth’s community and available resources.

As a student-athlete, Brown was unable to study abroad, a requirement for her major. Nonetheless, Career Development helped her score a paid internship with International Flavors and Fragrance Inc., satisfying that requirement.

“Because of the experience I had with my internship, I was able to land a job right after college…I was very fortunate but being locked into Career Services [Development] really helped me,” attributed Brown, who is now the Vice President of product engineering at Power to Fly, a diversity recruiting and retention platform.

“I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for Career Services [Development] and the Leon Hess Business School’s Business Council,” emphasized Brown. “Those people sitting pretty in high positions are the ones that can really help.”

Onikoyi, Founder/Clinical Director of the Center for Wellness, LLC, explained some of the obstacles she faced when forging her career path as she finishes up her Ph.D. in Psychology with a specialization in Health Psychology.

“I was always around medicine as influenced by my mother’s own career, so I thought I would want to do the same. However, I later realized my love for mental health,” elaborated Onikoyi. “The biggest obstacle I faced was telling my mother I didn’t want to be in the medical field…Letting people down is exactly what you need to do.”

As for Monmouth-related support, both Onikoyi and Obafemi benefitted from the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) Program.

Obafemi, a Senior Manager of Clinical Trail Business Delivery at Bristol Myers Squibb, described how he relied on EOF staff throughout his college experience. “They guided me when I was confused where to go.”

“Discover where you are so you can connect to your why,” Mills concluded. “The more we embrace our pain, the easier it gets to finding out your why.”