More than 300 attendees, including students from 19 high schools in Monmouth County, heard keynote speaker Kenneth (K.D.) Wilson’s inspiring message at the Sixth Annual Minority Male Initiative (MMI) Conference at Brookdale Community College on February 21. The theme for this year’s MMI conference was “Connecting Tomorrow’s Leaders with Today’s Professionals.”

“How you see yourself dictates how the rest of the world sees you,” said K.D. He encouraged attendees to see beyond their situation, no matter how difficult. K.D. talked about his own turbulent upbringing, which included almost being killed by a round of gunfire while a high school student. K.D. reminded students that “your pack determines your progress.”

K.D. emphasized that it’s not your situation in life but your response that determines your path. “I had every reason to quit, but we all need to get back up and fight,” said K.D. “No one is coming to live your life for you or coming to save you. It’s up to you.”

He ended his presentation by reminding audience members to “live bold, love hard, die empty.”

The conference was a joint effort between Brookdale and the Monmouth and Ocean Pan Hellenic Council. It was sponsored by Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG) program, New Jersey Natural Gas, FirstEnergy, Brookdale Educational Opportunity Fund and Two River Theater. Attendees participated in various career cluster workshops following the keynote presentation.