Spotlight on the BNRC
The impact of the Bell National Resource Center is best told through the students who underwent the leadership institute program. Through their stories, you can see a side of BNRC that is often not told. BRNC is more than a program here at the Ohio State University. It is a family that helps to nurture and prepare you for life. Below are personal stories from two recent Bell Center Alumni.
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Degree Obtained: BA in Operations Management with a minor in Economic
Currently, Wynton is working as a Client Service Analyst at Invesco. Before Wynton returned back home to Atlanta to work for this global marketing firm, he, too, was a student at Ohio State. During his journey through academia, Wynton faced many trials and tribulations. From his fondest moment of meeting and even fist bumping America’s first Black president, Barack Obama, at a rally on the oval to dealing with the consequences of taking a finance class at the very last minute, through the BRNC, Wynton has gained tools to see him through each problem.
As stated by Wynton, “The first thing that BNRC did for me was to make me feel at home at a huge institution like Ohio State. It also reminded me that African American men cannot only succeed on a largely diverse campus such as OSU but excel and be amongst the best and brightest all around students. From there they assisted me on my college career path by showing me key resources on campus, surrounded me with like-minded minority men that I can relate to, and held me accountable when necessary to make sure I stayed on the right path during school.”
Another insight that Wynton has gained through his time with the Leadership Institute of the BRNC was the importance of education aboard trips. With a few of the BRNC staff being closely involved with education aboard programs, Wynton became exposed to the impact of becoming a global citizen. If given the opportunity, he stated, he should have taken a trip during the summer of his freshman year.
In addition to his exposure to the importance of education aboard programs, the BNRC has equipped Wynton to deal with race relations in the real world. “Being an underrepresented student at Ohio State allowed me to be more aggressive in my pursuit of the things I wanted to do both on and off campus. I became aware of the fact that certain opportunities that were given to others may not come as easy for me unless I take a more proactive approach to pursuing that opportunity. You grow accustomed to that way of thinking over time. I believe that it was my proactivity both in and out the classroom that helped me get my post-grad opportunity at Invesco as well as the things I was fortunate enough to do while on campus.”
Now as an alumnus of the BNRC, Wynton has a few words of wisdom for undergraduate students. “The first piece of advice I would give to students is to find a mentor. Find a mentor that is on a similar path that you are beginning to embark on or has similar interests as you. Mentorship was essential to my success in college. My next piece of advice would be to get involved! More specifically, get involved in something that you enjoy doing or would have fun doing. Getting involved helps greatly with getting internships and opportunities post-graduation, and it's a great opportunity to network and make friends. Lastly, challenge yourself to grow culturally. Make friends outside of your race. Do things that are not predominately geared toward your own race or ethnicity. You'd be surprised by the things you learn and the people you meet.”
Hometown: New York, NY / Chesapeake, VA
Degree Obtained: Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology
Sean Plaskett is a multi-faceted teacher in Houston Texas, whose passion and dedication to youth could only be limited by the horizons. In addition to being a phenomenal teacher, Sean works as an after school program director, graduate student, and research team coordinator. In 2013, Sean’s hard work and dedication was recognized publicly as he was awarded twice to be the recipient of a Texas Title I Priority Schools (TTIPS) Excellence in Teaching Grant. This award to recognizes teachers “whose Title I students perform at or above the district/regional average on state assessments or show significant academic growth from their previous year's performance.”
Sean openly accredits the Leadership Institute of the BNRC in molding him to become an astonishing teacher. He states that the BRNC has impacted his life in three ways: “First, the BNRC equipped me with the skills and leadership experience to effectively advocate for low-income/underserved youth, especially Black male youth, in the field of education.” This was especially useful due to the fact that Sean’s first teaching job was at an all boy’s middle school in Houston, Texas that serviced Black and Hispanic communities. Secondly, “The BNRC cultivated and nurtured my ability and confidence in identifying challenges within my community and subsequently designing and initiating interventions/partnerships to adequately mitigate those challenges. Lastly, the BNRC showed me the power and effectiveness of fellowshipping within a community whose members were all supportive, ambitious, and educated, creating a culture of ‘iron sharpening iron.’ This community produced results for each individual constituent that were collectively beneficial and self-refining, serving as a promotive factor across phases of life and experience that extended well beyond my time in college.”
As an educator, Sean offers a few tokens of advice for undergraduate students and university officials. To the students he says, “Find a supportive, life-talking, life-giving, fellowshipping community of same-hearted (not necessarily like-minded) individuals, get connected, and just see for yourself what amazing things you could personally/collectively accomplish. A community of this sort will aid you through your journey of college and make your experience as complete as possible. With the Leadership Institute of the BNRC being an example of such community, all members see that their potential can never be limited. Even when faced with a closed door in front of them, the BNRC teaches you other ways to make things happen.”
To the university, Sean says that they should “find a more systematic way to get these underrepresented populations more quickly and comfortably acclimated to an academic community/environment that is often times terrifyingly/paralyzingly foreign (both from an academic and social standpoint). I am talking specifically about low-income and/or first-generation college students who are widely represented in racial minority student populations. Resources such as the BNRC and college bridge/mentoring programs are definitely steps in the right direction.”
In all the impact of the leadership institute of the BRNC can be seen in various components of Sean’s life. Through this organization Sean was able to flourish in ways unimaginable.
Written by BNRC student Mariame Diabate.