Tag: vanderbilt

Rice Shares his Experience as the First Black Student Government President at a Top-ranked Business School.

by Carjamin Scott on August 27, 2018, at 9:55 p.m. CST

According to Businessweek, the number of underrepresented minorities (URMs) — African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans — currently enrolled at top-ranked business schools is 13.4 percent.

The Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt is consistently ranked in U.S. News and World Report as one of the Top-ranked business schools in the country. According to the Owen business school website, the number of URMs enrolled for the MBA Class of 2020 is 15 percent, higher than average.

Officially founded in 1969, nearly 50 years later, Cleon Rice, MBA Class of 2018, became the first black president of the Owen Student Government Association (OSGA).

In this interview, Rice will share his experience as OSGA president, discuss how MLT created the framework for his business school and career success, present the programming that he spearheaded to support the needs of students, and give advice to the newly elected OSGA president.

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Cleon and friends MBA Class of 2018

Carjie: Cleon, what is life like after Owen?

Cleon: It is refreshing but I haven’t got my first paycheck yet. laughing I started July 30. I work for a biotech company commercial rotation development program in sales and in a couple of weeks, I’ll move to Providence Rhode Island. I knew I wanted to be in healthcare. I studied biology at Morehouse. I just wasn’t sure where I would fit in healthcare. My sister is a Pediatrician and my brother is a Dentist. So something healthcare related was a natural choice for me. I was in a program called MLT and the program helped me land an internship before classes began at Owen.

Carjie: So, your situation was unique because unlike most students you had something lined up before school?

Cleon: Yes, I was exposed to the biotech pharmaceutical industry and it aligned with the biomedical research I was doing in undergrad at Morehouse. I felt like this job would help me get closer to patients. I got the job through [Management Leaders for Tomorrow] MLT so I knew that I’d end up working here after Owen.

Carjie: When you were an applicant, what were you looking for in a business school?

Cleon: I was looking for exposure in finance and accounting. I was a little intimidated and I wanted to find a small school that would help me with healthcare. After meeting with Consuela, the diversity and recruiting manager, I knew that Owen was where I wanted to be. Honestly, Owen wasn’t the first school I saw. I had visited Owen over the diversity weekend. I felt a community feel and I enjoyed the small class size.

Carjie: There are a number of top ranked B-schools across the country. What led you to study in the south?

I am from rural Virginia but went to Morehouse and lived in Atlanta for 10 years. The south is home. Nashville was a big difference from Atlanta, but it wasn’t a big deal.

Carjie: Why were you interested in serving as student body President?

I wanted to create the personal scale culture in action.

Cleon: It started in mod 1, when my older brother passed from a heart attack. I went home for about two weeks and I was getting calls from my classmates. I couldn’t wait to get back to school to be with my school family. These people took care of me, I didn’t have to worry about food or anything. I wanted to make sure every student felt that same support throughout. I wanted to create the personal scale culture in action. Especially for the international students, it wasn’t that we were deliberately leaving them out, it was just hard for some to figure out cultural similarities. Business school was my time to do something different, I was able to travel a lot and experience everything I could in these two years and the opportunity to run for president was something that I wanted to experience.

Carjie: Thank you for sharing that. I’m so sorry for your loss. It is amazing that you were able to create joy for others while you were in so much pain. That’s honorable. In the YouTube video, “My Vanderbilt and Nashville experience” you mentioned how you cultivated, “a partnership with the Management for Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) program.” What is that program and why are programs like MLT valuable to top-ranked business schools?

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James Murray MBA 17 pictured on the left.

Cleon: Well, James Murray was the first person from MLT. My class [class of 2018] was the first group of MLTers. MLT helped us to understand what the business school process looked like. In MLT we did a branding exercise, to be sure our personal brand was a part of everything we do. MLT helped us with developing our career and gave us a purpose. MLT has a large network with business schools across the country. We were able to call up different people at business schools to get feedback about the institutions. I participated in MLT MBA Prep. MBA Prep served to increase the number of minorities at top MBA programs. I then applied to the MLT professional development program. The PD program helped me to secure my first internship. My MLT coach helped me talk through things and told me what to do over the summer. MLT has partner business schools and partner companies. These companies hire, train, and enroll MLTers.

Carjie: Wow! MLT is a great program. Thanks for sharing your MLT journey with us. Another highlight of your video was the “Humans of Owen initiative.” Are you able to share why that program is valuable to Owen?

It humanizes people and we were able to highlight every story and not just the people who are loud and proud.

Cleon: Yes, Humans of Owen is powerful. James Murray and others put a lot of effort into that. It started the year before I came to Owen. We talk about diversity and inclusion. HOO is a celebration of everyone’s diverse backgrounds. It humanizes people and we were able to highlight every story and not just the people who are loud and proud. With such a small student body we have an opportunity to highlight stories. Chemitra Clay, Jessica Bayless, and Thayer Rosenberg kept the momentum going.

Carjie: Humans of Owen is still going strong.

Cleon: Glad to hear it.

Carjie: The Owen MBA Class of 2018 profile like most top B-schools was comprised of – 26% women, 11% minorities, and 18% international. What was it like to lead a student body comprised of a majority white male population? How were you able to support every student throughout their time at Owen?

I think that just being cognizant of what their interests are is valuable. I had to take a step back and look at the overall picture. I had to not rely on making black first or minority first decisions.

Cleon: It is interesting, and I felt that weight, you see it in every interaction. I had the opportunity to get to know classmates beforehand. A ton of the fears that we have is that we can’t relate to each other. What I sought to do is determine what their individual motives are. I think that just being cognizant of what their interests are is valuable. I had to take a step back and look at the overall picture. I had to not rely on making black first or minority first decisions.

Carjie: How did it feel to have been selected as the first black OSBA president?

I knew I had to come correct in everything I did. And although I identify as black, I wanted to make sure other voices were heard.

Cleon: I think that the feeling was, how did I finesse this. laughs It was because we have a small group of minority students so I wasn’t sure if I was going to win. When I won, I felt the responsibility and pressure to serve them. I believe that when I would speak I had to be sure that I spoke clearly. I had to make sure I was on time for meetings. I remember some of the first emails, I had to be sure my grammar was correct, I knew I had to come correct in everything I did. And although I identify as black, I wanted to make sure other voices were heard.

Carjie: Cleon, I really appreciate your honesty and the sincerity of your response. I think that those are some concerns that many minorities face everyday. Other than the Humans of Owen initiative and the MLT partnership, what was your greatest accomplishment as OSGA president?

Cleon: Our greatest accomplishment was the diversity and inclusion advisory board comprised of leaders of Owen. For change to really happen we wanted to see faculty, staff, and student supported recommendations from that committee. We wanted those ideas to be sustainable. We wanted to be sure that minorities, females, and international students were supported. Dr. Rangaraj “Ranga” Ramanujam is the chair of that committee.

Carjie: If given the opportunity, what would you have added or what would you have done differently as OSGA president?

Cleon: I would have tried to take care of myself better. I was all in. I was trying to support my student body, as a black male, and things like that. I didn’t do the best job of taking care of things for myself. It was empowering to help others and encourage other students to make the changes that needed to happen. But the job started from day one of second year, and I had just lost my brother and then we lost Nii. [Nii was an international classmate from Africa and member of the MBA Class of 2018.] I was mourning his death but I was the President at the same time. I had to be strong. But, at the end of the day, I was just the OSGA president of a business school so if I could do something differently, I would have to taken care of myself better.

Carjie: Thank you, Cleon. You dealt with a lot in business school and you left a lasting impact at Owen. What would you like to see top-B schools implement or continue to do to recruit and support minority students?

Cleon: I think it just needs to be all hands on deck to make sure an increase in diversity and inclusion in business schools is made. Relying on one diversity recruiter is just not fair or sustainable. These efforts must come from the top down. It has to radiate throughout. Students see that, so leaders have to get out and push into communities. For example, Nashville is the country music capital and people have perceptions about that. At a school like Owen, everyone needs to be all hands on deck to show what it takes to take care of its’ minority students.

Carjie: What advice would you give the new OSGA President, Emily Redfield?

Cleon: I think what Owen needs is better branding to bring the fun and the programming. I think that Emily will bring that. My advice is to sit down, take a deep breath, and listen to students. One of the things we don’t think about is how valuable it is to listen to the issues of others and hear people out. Sometimes people need an ear more than a solution. You want people to see you as this person of who they can come to and speak to. All students need help not just the loud ones.

This interview celebrates the legacy of the Owen Class of 2018, the life of Cleon’s older brother who passed during the school year, and the life of international student Nii Amarfio MBA ’18 who passed during the school year as well. Thank you Cleon. – Carjie

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Carjamin Scott can be reached at carjamin.scott@gmail.com and you can follow her on twitter @scottcarjie.

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Briana Perry, State Co-Director at Healthy and Free Tennessee Shares Information about Partnering with College Students.

by Carjamin Scott on July 11, 2018, at 4:57 p.m. CST

Briana Perry is the State Co-Director for Healthy and Free Tennessee. A highly educated women’s rights activist, Perry earned a Bachelor of Arts, in Sociology with Honors and a Master of Education in Learning Diversity and Urban Studies from Vanderbilt University.

She has an interest in the well being of Black mothers, ending gender disparity, educating communities in need of sexual and reproductive justice, and partnering with college students.

A native of Memphis, she is making a name for herself as a social justice reformer and inclusive strategist in West Tennessee.

Her career started as a graduate student employee, educating the Vanderbilt community about gender equity and racial justice issues, while working for the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center at Vanderbilt .

Perry is member of the 2018 New Leaders Council Nashville Chapter, she was a recipient of the Outstanding Professional Promise for M.Ed. in Service to Diverse Populations Award from the Department of Teaching and Learning at Peabody College, and a 2017 Nominee for 120 Under Forty.

She has served on many steering committees for organizations such as the Nashville Feminist Collective, the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools Program, and the East Nashville Hope Exchange.

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Perry believes that colleges should lead in educating students and the community about healthy sexual relationships.

Perry mentioned, “not all states, such as TN, provide adequate sex education (medically accurate and evidence-based) in K-12 schools that is comprehensive and includes consent and healthy relationships.”

This is why Healthy and Free Tennessee is necessary to raise awareness and promote sexual health and reproductive justice.

“Students then enter college lacking this vital information and therefore are not adequately equipped to make informed decisions about their bodies,” said Perry.

Continue reading “Briana Perry, State Co-Director at Healthy and Free Tennessee Shares Information about Partnering with College Students.”

Meet Rev. Shantell Hinton, the first African American Chaplain at Vanderbilt University

by Carjamin Scott on June 23, 2018, at 10:56 p.m. CST

Just one year ago, Rev. Shantell Hinton, became the African American to lead in the Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life (OUCRL) at Vanderbilt University. Prior to obtaining the role of Assistant University Chaplain, Assistant Director of Religious Life, she earned a master of divinity from Vanderbilt Divinity School. While enrolled, Hinton was awarded the Kelly Miller Smith Institute for Black Church Studies Certificate and the Florence Conwell Prize.

Hinton has a background in engineering. She earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Vanderbilt and a master’s degree in electrical engineering with a concentration in controls and robotics from Colorado State University. Her career experience includes working as a process control engineer and as a Bible teacher.

Hinton mentioned, “I think God called me to ministry because I had a desire to ask questions and learn how to apply them in church. I started with youth ministry and worked hard to make church relevant for our youth. Later, it evolved into a desire to make the church more relevant for this day and age – to help folks understand God and our faith in different ways.”

Hinton’s religious programmming has provided students with a safe space to explore their faith, an opportunity to celebrate their identities, and develop relationships between student groups who otherwise may not have interacted with each other.

Under her leadership, OUCRL has executed inclusive religious programming particularly for Vanderbilt’s growing students of color population. These programs have provided students with a safe space to explore their faith, an opportunity to celebrate their identity, develop relationships between student groups who otherwise may not have interacted with each other, and have an impactful dialogue about religion and spirituality.

Continue reading “Meet Rev. Shantell Hinton, the first African American Chaplain at Vanderbilt University”

Promote Mental Health Before College: Suicide Risk on the Rise for Teens aged 15-17

by Carjamin Scott on June 11, 2018, at 7:50 p.m. CST

According to a Vanderbilt-led study, the risk of suicide for teens aged 15-17 has increased, particularly during the month of October. The study, published in Pediatrics, indicated that school-aged children had a higher rate of suicide attempts in the fall and spring. The summer months had the lowest rate of suicide attempts.

“To our knowledge, this is one of only a few studies to report higher rates of hospitalization for suicide during the academic school year,” said lead author Greg Plemmons, MD, associate professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

The study was conducted from 2008-2015 at children’s hospitals across America. The sharp rise of suicides and suicide attempts during the school year suggest that students experience higher levels of stress while enrolled in school. According to the U.S. Center for Disease and Prevention, suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for adolescents.

…aside from alcohol-related deaths, suicide is the number one cause of death for college students.

Other studies indicate, aside from alcohol-related deaths, suicide is the number one cause of death for college students. As you prepare your student for college this August, be sure to talk with them about the importance of mental health and wellness. Students are often leaving home for the first time. They may experience anxiety, depression, and stress while navigating unfamiliar terrain. If your student is dealing with any of this, suggest that they attend counseling services available at the university. University counselors are experienced with assisting students with navigating college life.

Here are some of the signs to look for to determine if a student you know needs to seek medical treatment.

Continue reading “Promote Mental Health Before College: Suicide Risk on the Rise for Teens aged 15-17”

Summer Institute to Engage Community on Racial Justice at Vanderbilt University

Submitted by Ann Marie Deer Owens of Vanderbilt News on May 30, 2018, 9:27 AM

The inaugural Summer Institute is hosted by the Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative June 4-8.

“Reclaiming Our Time: Public Theology, Racial Justice and the Fight for Democracy” will be the theme for the inaugural Summer Institute presented by the Divinity School’s Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative June 4-8.

Registered participants can attend one of two teaching tracks: Social Trauma, Social Death or The Power of Truth-Telling: Stories and Practices from the Front lines.

In addition, there are five events that are free and open to the public:

Continue reading “Summer Institute to Engage Community on Racial Justice at Vanderbilt University”