Members of Springfield Baptist Church in Thomson hosted their 23rd Annual College Day Program, aimed specifically at getting high school graduates interested in attending historically black colleges and universities in America, in the church sanctuary last Saturday afternoon.
Serving as this year's guest speaker was Dr. LaTai Grant-Brown, a 1992 honor graduate of Thomson High School and former member of the local church. Dr. Brown, who grew up in Thomson, currently works as a neurologist/neurophysiologist in Memphis, Tenn. and Tunica, Miss. In 2006, she helped establish Sentinel Neurological Services, PC.
The day also was special in that members of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. in which Dr. Grant-Brown is a proud member, presented their Black History Oratorical Contest, which included a number of local students.
Dr. Grant-Brown's speech to more than 200 local students, parents and grandparents attending the College Day Program, focused on the important topic of giving up - not an option. Her speech was interactive with students attending.
"I want to talk today about students who have been in the same spots you are in and were able to answer some of those same questions that you are asking yourselves," said Dr. Grant-Brown. "They went to college, matriculated and graduated. They didn't give up.
"The first student, let's call her Mae. Mae was a very intelligent, bright young lady, who did well in school and made good grades. Mae's parents did not go to college, but always encouraged her to go. Once in high school, Mae talked to her counselor and did everything she was supposed to in order to apply. However, one thing that Mae didn't consider was how she would pay for this venture. Mae was very shocked when she realized how much even one year would cost. Mae started to get discouraged; she was being raised by a single mother and there was not a whole lot of extra money floating around. She wasn't sure how it would work, but she was determined not to give up."
Dr. Grant-Brown emphasized the importance of students preparing for college with three principles:
- Do your research - Decide on a possible major or majors - then look for schools that are known for providing outstanding coursework in that area. If you are not sure about a major just yet, then look for schools with a good reputation in general. Also look at tuition, distance from home and anything else that can possibly cause a problem down the road and stand in the way of you achieving your goal.
- Make a plan - Once you have done your research, start narrowing your options. Decide on where you will apply, what their deadlines are, where you will live and how to apply for financial aid. If you have responsibilities at home that need to be addressed while you are away, then start talking to friends or family that might be able to help. Talk to people you know, who have graduated from each school or if you don't know anyone, then call each school and see if you can get the names of anyone who either lives close to you or who graduated from your high school. Make arrangements to email them or even meet with them. Try to set up a tour of your top three school picks.
- Put your plan into action - Make your final choice of what school you will attend. Finalize your financial aid. Finalize your living and travel arrangements. If you need to work, go ahead and start looking for jobs. Register for your classes early so that you can start buying your books. Buy used books - especially ones that are not in your major.
Dr. Grant-Brown also shared with those attending about a man named Dr. Benjamin Carson, "a perfect example of someone who faced obstacles early on, yet still achieved greatness."
Dr. Carson, now a world-famous pediatric neurosurgeon, lecturer and author, came up with a pneumonic from the title of his second book, Think Big which Dr. Grant-Brown shared. "It encourages me when I feel overwhelmed or second guess my career choice," she said.
- Talent - Our Creator has endowed all of us not just with the ability to sing, dance or throw a ball, but with intellectual talent. Start getting in touch with that part of you that is intellectual and develop that and think of careers that will allow you to use that.
- Honesty - If you lead a clean and honest life, you don't put skeletons in the closet. If you put skeletons in the closet, they definitely will come back just when you don't want to see them and ruin your life.
- Insight - It comes from people who have already gone where you're trying to go. Learn from their triumphs and their mistakes.
- Niceness - If you're nice to people, then once they get over the suspicion of why you're being nice, they will be nice back to you.
- Knowledge - It makes you into a more valuable person. The more knowledge you have, the more people need you. It's an interesting phenomenon, but when people need you, they pay you, so you'll be okay in life.
- Books - They are the mechanism for obtaining knowledge, as opposed to television.
- In-depth learning - Learn for the sake of knowledge and understanding, rather than for the sake of impressing people or taking a test.
- God - Never get too big for Him.
In her closing remarks, Dr. Grant-Brown said, "I hope that I have said something that will inspire you to aspire for greatness. But if you don't remember anything else that I mentioned, just remember that no matter what the obstacles may be - giving up is not an option."