by Gabrielle Cavett
On October 10, 2015 an amazing conference will be hosted by Kenneth Vaughn. The entire panel will be centered around preparing students for the next phase in their life--college. Whether we are high school students or adults going into college, many come to the conclusion that the new experience can be daunting and packed with increased levels of anxiety and fear. This is why Vaughn believed it was a good idea to host the conference and assist in easing these emotions. Vaughn decided to call on several natives of Flint (Kellen Brandon, Ashley Green, Adrian Walker, Eric Woodyard, and LeMarcus Howard) who have had great success post college to bring a new perspective on this un-treaded path students are soon to embark on. I was lucky enough to catch up with the man behind this incredible event, and also learn about his passion for community.
When speaking about the conference, we were able to discuss Vaughn's vision and goals. While anyone entering college is welcome to attend the conference, Kenneth spoke about the importance of thinking about college long before your senior year. "The students in the beginning stages get a chance to prep before things really matter. If you have college on your brain early on, you will prepare yourself well before that time comes," says Vaughn.
I simply asked Vaughn, more about the goals of the conference. I was quickly made aware that this conference would be much more than a one time deal. It was a small piece of the vision that Vaughn had for the students of Flint. "The event is totally for the students to learn and engage with like-minded people that don't fall too far from the same tree," he said. He also spoke about how he specifically hand picked certain individuals from the community. "...it will give students an idea of what it looks like to capture success coming from the same streets and neighborhoods that these successful panelist came from." I began to wonder where his passion for students was developed. Vaughn informed me that "...I had a specialization with youth development so I've always been interested in working with students specifically." I've always been interested in watching our youth grow and develop into amazing young men and women."
Vaughn wanted to make sure that I understood as well as others reading this article, "This conference will be useful to students because this will be the first time a lot of these students hear this message. Utilizing your resources, time management, and financial freedom after graduation, are all items they need to think about now!" Vaughn wants to encourage students to go after as many scholarships as possible and not allow debt to be a deterrent for enrollment into college.
Vaughn's college journey started about 50 miles from Flint at Michigan State University. "I was accepted to MSU on December 20, 2004. I started in the fall and I was kicked out by my second year. I was placed on academic recess and a mentor along with several other faculty put their names on the line to get me back into school. I finished in six years and now I'm applying for grad school at the HALE (Higher Adult Lifelong Education) program in the college of education." Vaughn seems to be very grateful for the adults that poured into him and assisted him in staying afloat on the college level. It brings everything full circle in understanding why this conference is such a huge deal for him. More importantly, Vaughn knows the value that hearing the messages that will be provided by the speakers are so vital to students achieving their goals and dreams.
Lastly, but surely not least, Vaughn wants to provide students and parents with the "realities" of college life as a student. He believes that parents have truly taken a step back from the responsibilities of preparing their youth for success in the real world. It could also be a result of many parents in the community not having the chances and resources to achieve success also. Vaughn's conference is sure to impact all who attend. If you're a student, parent, mentor, or friend, make sure you attend. *GC