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HCC hosts third annual Men to Men Summit

Halifax Community College’s Preparing Men for Intellectual, Academic, and Educational Success (P.R.I.D.E.) Mentoring Program presented the third annual Men to Men Summit, “Cultivating a Passion for Success: From Dreams to Reality,” Apr. 22 at The Centre. Keynote speakers included Michael Garner and Rev. Dr. Staccato Powell.
Garner is the chief diversity officer at Metropolitan Transportation Authority Headquarters in New York City. He is responsible for the short and long-term business development of qualified emerging Minority, Women-Owned and Locally Based Business Enterprises.

“My message to you is that your mission is possible,” said Garner. “Secondly, it’s very rare that we wind up where we started.” He stressed that students should focus on their short- and long-term goals and should be committed. “You can’t have one foot in and one foot out,” he added. “Certain things that you do in this life will take everything you that have.”


“You should always be a leader. Don’t follow people. Leaders will focus and achieve,” he said. “There are students here being raised by a single parent... So what? You can make it out…Your mission is possible.”


Powell is a native of North Carolina and is an accomplished preacher and teacher. He serves as pastor of the Grace AME Zion Church in Raleigh and is also the chief executive officer of Grace in the City, Community Development Corporation, an entity dedicated to the redevelopment of the College Park neighborhood.


Powell talked about the “Fair Game” of life. “There is a process…there are no instant successes in life,” he cautioned. “You have to eliminate the fantasy in life and get down to reality.” Powell outlined three things that students need to succeed including attitude, aptitude, and altitude.


“Have an excellent attitude,” he stressed. “If you think you can make it, then you can…It’s what you think about yourself that matters.” Powell also mentioned working hard to increase one’s aptitude. “The secret is how determined you are to make it.” Lastly, he noted, “Your altitude is really determined by the foundation you establish on the ground level. Your foundation is made up of core values that consist of character and conduct. Your conduct is a direct reflection of your character.”


Breakout sessions featured Rev. Travis Judkins, pastor of Mt. Olive Baptist Church who discussed the topic, “Tackling Academic, Personal, and Social Issues associated with Middle School Boys.” Christopher Martin a.k.a. “Play” from the rap duo Kid-N-Play spoke on the topic, “From Boy to Male to Man.”


During Martin’s session, he emphasized to students to stay in school and to know who they are as individuals. “There’s a price to pay if you don’t stay in school,” Martin noted. He described his childhood and the struggles he encountered in high school. He assumed that “street life” was the life for him. When he was younger, the main thing he wanted was to have a nickname because “that’s what every cool guy had.” Since he was a self-taught artist, he drew designs on jeans for people and would accompany the design with a Playboy bunny with a bent ear. So, he earned the nickname “Playboy,” which was shortened to “Play” at the age of 18.


However, when “Play” entered the picture, Christopher ceased to exist. Even with fame and fortune, Martin contemplated committing suicide. At that point, he was only 33. “I wanted to kill myself because I didn’t know who I was anymore,” he said. “Christopher came back, but he was still 18 and had stopped growing as a person. Only an ego had existed.”


Martin got married because he thought it was the thing to do; however, it was not successful. “You need to see how women are at every stage and the same for them with us…We try to rush things and we try to be something we’re not,” he added. “Talent will get you to be number one. Character will keep you at number one.”


The purpose of the summit is to provide a unique opportunity for males of all ages to address the myriad of problems that have an adverse affect on the socialization of young males. Specifically, the summit addresses workforce issues, economic development, networking, and being heard in the community. The event provides a chance for youth, adults, administrators, professionals, educational institutions, faith-based and community organizations, and individuals to participate in a one-day symposium designed to address the issues facing youth and adults.


 Garner M2M Summit 2010

Michael Garner, standing, presents a PRIDE member with a copy of “Outliers: The Story of Success,” written by Malcolm Gladwell, during the Men to Men Summit.