The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Fade to Black Career Panel kicks off Black History Month

Melanie Jackson
Pamela Zeigler-Petty speaking among the panelists at Fade to Black: Transitioning from Student to Professional on Feb. 1.

Black Dallas business leaders shared their expertise, networking tips, and the Black experience in predominately white corporate spaces with SMU students and community members at Fade to Black: Transitioning from Student to Professional last Thursday, Feb 1.

Trina Terrell-Andrews, Panelist and CEO of Mark Cuban Heroes Basketball Center, shared the importance of being authentic in the workplace.

“When you come into a space, if people can’t appreciate what you’re bringing into that room, then that’s not the room for you to be in,” said Terrell-Andrews.

The event, hosted by the Hegi Family Career Development Center and the Social Change and Intercultural Engagement Office in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Chamber, kicked off a series of programming for Black History Month.

Other events on SMU’s campus celebrating Black History Month include: The Association of Black Students hosting the Black History Month Fashion Show on Feb. 16 from 5 p.m. to 7p.m. and the annual Black Excellence Ball on Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. SMU Dining will also have a Black History Month Chef Spotlight Series at Umphrey Lee and Arnold Dining Halls throughout the month.

In addition to Terrell-Andrews, the panel also hosted Charles Akinyemi, Account Executive Team Leader at Fisher Investments, Brenda Scott, Director of Inclusive Excellence at SMU, and Pamela Zeigler-Petty, Senior Vice President of Community Development Banking at InterBank.

The panel members encouraged students to come out of their comfort zones and build professional relationships by networking. Akinyemi, an SMU alum, stressed the importance of using the Hilltop as a training ground.

“You have to be intentional about this opportunity you have here, you practice,” Akinyemi said.
“Once you get out into the corporate world, it only gets harder.”

In the spirit of Black History Month, the last question before a brief Q&A explored the joys of being a Black individual. The panel shared empowering stories of their lineage and the pride of being a part of a vibrant community.

“We are the foundation, so embrace being Black, embrace being the great individuals that you are because it’s a beautiful thing,” Scott said.

Keirsten Kelly, an SMU senior, attended a similar version of the event last year and returned to hear some words of wisdom before graduating and entering the business world.

“My biggest takeaway was to, I just say, take up space and own it,” Kelly said.

Zeigler-Petty was happy to share her professional and personal journey with the next generation of young professionals.

“I’m always interested in providing any kind of information I can to help them transition to the next stage,” Zeigler-Petty said. “But more importantly, anything about the Black experience, I’m always there and ready to share.”

The corporate world for Black professionals has changed drastically since the Civil Rights Movement, but there’s still room for workplaces to improve upon their equity and inclusion practices. Zeigler-Petty said that this area of progress continues to ebb and flow since the recent flood of implementations of DEI initiatives in corporate spaces following the murder of George Floyd in 2020.

“But as we know right now, we’re starting to see quite a bit of things that have transpired that are now causing some of those initiatives to really fade away,” Zeigler-Petty said. “I’ve been so inspired by hearing what SMU is doing and the fact that it is still front and center with the university.”

David Sommers, Assistant Director for Employer Relations and an organizer of the event, is looking forward to creating more programming like this to cater to Black students throughout the academic year.

“What we’re trying to do again is really making sure that the conversation doesn’t end in February, it should be 365 [days long],” Sommers said. “So that really challenges us to think about- ‘OK what are we doing in other months?’-to make sure the conversation continues.”

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