Youths exhorted to dream and study 450 male students attend college motivational event

November 20, 1997|By Karen Masterson | Karen Masterson,SUN STAFF

Concerned that not enough male students are enrolled, Baltimore City Community College used a pricey motivational speaker yesterday to encourage school-aged black males to enroll and graduate.

"The symposium is part of our efforts to recruit and retain more African-American males," said Stan D. Brown, who organized yesterday's event at the Liberty campus' fine arts auditorium.

Brown said the college, whose enrollment is 82 percent black, has a student ratio of three women to one man. The college ranks 11th of 1,114 community colleges nationwide in number of associate degrees awarded.

The college hired Willie Jolley, who waived part of his $5,000 hourly fee, to give 450 middle and high school students a streetwise pep talk.

"Why is it that everything some people touch turns to gold while others can't manage to make ends meet? They have the recipe," Jolley said, answering his own question.

Jolley's recipe had one main ingredient: the ability to dream. "If you can't dream it, you can't do it. And what's the No. 1 dream buster? Drugs."

Jolley told the filled auditorium that he grew up in a poor section of Washington and now owns a business worth more than $1 million.

"I now make more in one hour than I used to make in one month," he said.

But he said money neither motivated him nor led to his business success. Instead, he said, he had to believe in himself and have ideas and dreams he could build on.

"Money doesn't make you a success," he said. "But if you're a success, you can make as much money as you want."

One Pimlico Middle School student disagreed.

"Money's where it's at. You can't dream [without it]." said the 14-year-old, who asked not to be named. "But he was good. He's cool. I listened." The teen-ager said drugs and violence are part of his world, but Jolley's talk made him think.

Ethel Johnson, a BCCC health information instructor, came to get ideas for dealing with her son.

"Getting him motivated is really important to me right now. He's under a lot of pressure. And as a parent, I don't really know what to say. But getting him here would have been very difficult," she said.

Instead, Johnson bought an audiotape and book from Jolley, who told her: "Take him for a drive, get the car up to 55 mph and put the tape in. He'll listen."

Brown said positive male role models such as himself and Jolley can help reverse the effects of drugs and poverty.

"We're not athletes," said Brown. "We're using our intellect to achieve our personal goals," something Brown said too many young black men don't do.

"Many young people do not have an ethical or moral standard to judge their actions by," Brown said. "We weren't born with a sense of what's ethically and morally right. These things are taught."

Pub Date: 11/20/97

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