Legislative conference attracts nearly 150 students

LeJuan Maul (left) and Taylor Dunbar participate in the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus Foundation's Youth Leadership Conference. It was held last week at UMSL.

Nearly 150 high school students from across Missouri got a taste of college last week when the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus Foundation held its Youth Leadership Conference at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. It was the first time the annual event was held at UMSL.

Since its inception in 1989, the MLBCF has focused on programs for young people that provide educational support and opportunities for excellence, encouragement and community role models. The foundation sponsors the youth conference.

Missouri high school students from the Bootheel, Columbia, Jefferson City, Kansas City, St. Joseph and St. Louis stayed in UMSL’s Oak Hall, toured the campus, attended workshops and met with political leaders who are working to shape their future.

State Sen. Rita Heard Days, a leader of the foundation and a longtime member of the state legislature, welcomed the group.

“The Missouri Legislative Black Caucus Foundation is pleased to continue providing college exposure to youth all over the state,” Days said. “We hope the opportunity to attend this exciting conference encourages them to think of college as a viable option and that they consider a wide array of career possibilities.”

The two-day event included sessions on time management, financial aid, dorm life, student organizations and a dose of good advice from some “experienced” UMSL students.

“In college it’s all on you,” Adrian Walker, a UMSL senior told a group of teens.

Walker and three other UMSL student leaders who work in the university’s welcome center formed a panel to cover subjects usually not covered in the viewbook: Is summer school fun? How hard are the math classes? What kind of job can you get?

Walker wanted them to know college was a time to get serious.

“You pay thousands of dollars to go to school and hundreds to buy books,” he said. “But if you don’t go to class or read the books, you flunk out. You threw that money away, and it’s on you.”

Taylor Dunbar, a senior at Jefferson City High School, and LeJuan Maul, a freshman at Carnahan High School in St. Louis said the conference was helpful.

“I already know I want to be a mathematician,” said Maul, who talked of a career as a college professor or engineer.

Dunbar said she wasn’t sure of her future, but she said workshops on scholarships and success helped her move in the right direction.

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