More than 350 people, including nearly 300 students, attended the fifth annual Minority Male Initiative (MMI) Conference at Brookdale Community College last month. The students represented 15 high schools in Monmouth and Ocean counties and included Brookdale students.

Keynote speaker and former New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Dr. Rochelle Hendricks delivered an inspiring message to the students. She encouraged the students to be authentic, know who you are and to persevere on your path to progress and prosperity.


“As a Brookdale alumni, I came back to attend MMI to support the EOF program which was great influence on me. This conference opens up the eyes of these young men who may be on the fence about attending college or unsure about how to start their careers.” -Matthew Goulbourne


“No one is so gifted that he can rely on natural gifts along to compete in this world,” said Hendricks. “Setbacks, disappointments and failures are all part of the process. Know your passion, prepare, practice and step up to your future today.”

The MMI program aims to increase the number of minority males attending and remaining in college to earn their degrees.

Dr. Fidel Wilson, Brookdale Educational Opportunity Fund student success coach and lead coordinator of the conference, reminded the students that there are many people who care about them. He urged them to form strong relationships with those who support them and told the students that he understood first-hand the challenges and difficulties in overcoming poverty and not succumbing to peer pressure.

Brookdale Community College President Dr. David Stout told the students that he is confident that “we’re going to hear great things from you in the not too distant future.” He also noted the ten-fold increase in the conference audience since its inception. He encouraged the students to utilize the resources offered by Brookdale and in their local communities to chart their career course.


“Setbacks, disappointments and failures are all part of the process. Know your passion, prepare, practice and step up to your future today.” -Former New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Dr. Rochelle Hendricks


The conference represented a joint effort between Brookdale and the Monmouth and Ocean County Pan Hellenic Council. Conference sponsors included Hackensack Meridian Health, FirstEnergy, Two River Theater and the Brookdale Educational Opportunity Fund. New Jersey Natural Gas provided funds for a scholarship to Brookdale. In addition to the keynote address, attendees heard from professionals in career cluster workshops covering five career disciplines: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM); Communications Media; Health Sciences; Business and Social Sciences and Theater. Presenters and facilitators in the workshops discussed what inspired them to pursue their respective career, the type of preparation required to compete in their industries.

Presenters from Hackensack Meridian Health, FirstEnergy and Two Rivers Theater in Red Bank also hosted workshops for students interested in pursuing careers in their industries. The workshops informed students about the many types of occupations and available opportunities in their companies, especially in areas where there is a shortage of minority representation.


Photo Caption:

(Left to right) Kathy Moyer (FirstEnergy), Jacqueline DeFelice (FirstEnergy), Brookdale President David Stout , Kenneth Morgan (Monmouth-Ocean Panhellenic Council), Dr. Fidel Wilson (Brookdale EOF) and James Markey (FirstEnergy)

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