Main Content Region


I'm Graduating - What's Next

Essential Conversations Im Graduating! Whats Next

More than 75 attended the latest Essential Conversations with African Men event organized and hosted by the Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration (JHBC) Office of Academic Equity (OAE) earlier this year. This year's theme - "I'm Graduating! What Next?" - aimed to motivate and inspire graduates and soon-to-be-graduates. Here is a snapshot of the event:

The Facts - A Presentation by Dr. Francisca Beer

Beer’s presentation compared unemployment rates between African American men versus others. Dr. Beer’s research shows that education skills, and work experience played a large part in these rates. Marriage and health were other reasons explaining the lower employment rates.  Unfortunately, discrimination as well as, social and spatial isolation continue to play an important part. Beer also compared graduation rates between genders and ethnic groups.  Although education is not yet the “great equalizer," it should be. She indicated that the four-year graduation rate doubled for black men who entered as freshmen at the CSU.

Beer's tips for graduates:

  • tailor your resume to each employer
  • check for new job postings frequently
  • use your alumni network
  • keep up with the industry news
  • prepare for job interviews
  • learn from each other

Mr. Marek LeBlanc says “W.O.R.K”

Mr. Marek LeBlanc, a professor of management at CSUSB was the keynote speaker for this event. LeBlanc, who has more than 30 years of experience as a banker, shared his experience growing up in Compton and buying his first home as a young gentleman in Moreno Valley. LeBlanc asked all participants to remember that success means WORK.  For LeBlanc WORK stands for "When Opportunity Reaches Knowledge”.

Learn From Each Other

A panel of African American men also shared their experience and tips for success.

They included:

  • Anthony Roberson, Associate Director of Operations at CSUSB’s Santos Manuel Student Union
  • Aaron Burgess, an Associate Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students at Cal State LA
  • Alton Garrett of Garrett Management Group, LLC
  • King Adjei-Frimpong who has been in the social impact space his entire career
  • Anthony Conley, Director of Support Services at Covenant House California
  • Kevon Lee, a motivational speaker with his own business
  • Marcus Reynolds, Director of Project Impact at CSUSB
  • Frederick Jones, Director of User Operations at Siembra Mobile
  • Nicholas Akingbemi, who is the visionary and founder of OddBalls Consulting and Educational Services, Inc. and Community Engagement Officer at UC Irvine Police Department. 

The panelistsagreed that having a mentor helps when they need advice and guidance but also when they just need a listening ear. Mr. Adjei-Frimpong stated, “you never know who will drop a gem when”.  While Mr. Akingbemi recommended DOPE, an acronym meaning, "Deliberate, Optimistic, Purposeful, and Engagement”.  

Mr. Roberson shared his story of starting from the bottom and moving his way up to becoming the Associate Director he is now, helping build the new SMSU building on campus. Meanwhile, Mr. Lee recalled the response from his teacher in sophomore year of high school when she asked the class who wanted to go to college? Mr. Lee reveals, “I raised my hand. I wanna go to college,” and this teacher looked at him and said, “you, college, please.” He went on to explain how hurt and angry he felt at the time. But that wasn’t the end for him. He was motivated when he talked with a person of color who revealed to him they had a Ph.D. He proudly announced he is now going back to school to pursue his masters in higher education.

"There are still ways to move forward and that is by tapping into your networks and that is by using the resources that you have available,"

-Annika Anderson, CSUSB associate professor in the department of sociology 


During the event, OAE Director and Finance Professor Francisca Beer presented an overview of JHBC OAE’s achievements and announced the launch of the JHBC OAE Opportunity Fund. The fund is designed to provide several monetary awards ranging from $500 - $1,000 to eligible students.