On Wednesday, March 27, North Sound ACH staff members Amanda Robins and Leah Wainman had the privilege of attending Everett Community College’s 17th Annual Students of Color Career Conference. More than 2,200 middle school and high school students from Whatcom, King, and Snohomish counties attended. The event gave students the opportunity to meet and ask questions of a diverse set of professionals, who looked like them, spoke like them, and possess experience navigating a dominant culture work environment.
Leah and Amanda were invited by leaders of the Community of Color Coalition (C3). The conference opened with a land acknowledgement and a moving prayer from elementary school tribal students. The prayer was followed by Nikkita Oliver, who connected with students through rap, spoken word and a powerful speech. Oliver is a Seattle-based creative, community organizer, abolitionist, educator, and attorney who ran for Mayor of Seattle in 2017. In her speech, Oliver encouraged students to continue striving to meet their goals, even when others might say they can’t or shouldn’t. She reminded students that adversity will come their way, but to be ready to rise up and overcome. The students were all respectful and attentive—it was clear her message resonated.
After Ms. Oliver’s speech, students broke into smaller groups to meet with panels of professionals of color. The panel Amanda attended hosted a trial lawyer who earned his degree at a historically black college and is now the Executive Director of a civil legal aid nonprofit, a bilingual outreach coordinator who grew up in a Spanish speaking country, and an employee of the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office.
Students were embraced for their individual goals and talents and encouraged to build positive relationships with mentors. Being introduced to professionals of color they can look to as role models, students were challenged to learn about various career options, encouraged to dream big, and realize their purpose, passion, and power.
It was an honor and a privilege to bear witness to such a powerful, empowering event. North Sound ACH looks forward to continuing to support this work; we hope to see this model of community building, collaboration and focus on equity embraced region-wide.
To learn more about the history of the Students of Color Career Conference, you can visit their website here.