Bowles 2MADISONVILLE, Ky. (2/16/19) — The Third Annual Bowles Center for Diversity Outreach Leadership Conference was held at Madisonville Community College this week.

The event, sponsored by the city of Madisonville, included middle and high school students from across Hopkins County, led by Bowles Center CEO Jerome Bowles of Covington, formerly of Madisonville, who is a master in education.

Thursday’s conference focused on reducing barriers to learning, career and college readiness, leadership skills, closing achievement gaps and cultural empowerment. Colleges represented included MCC, Murray State University, Kentucky State University, University of Louisville, University of Southern Indiana, Kentucky Wesleyan and Brescia University.

During one mid-morning session at the Steve Beshear Regional Post-Secondary Education Center, youth discussed obstacles that could be weighing them down or could possibly keep them from reaching their goals.

Keiana Caldwell, a Hopkins County Central High School senior, voiced plans about going into the nursing field or family counseling.

Students remarked they look to their family members, peers and professionals for guidance in choosing a career path. Another student told instructors he wants to be self motivated and make sure, as an individual, he does not become a barrier to himself in reaching goals.

Hispanic, Asian and African-American students said as minorities, they do not like being stereotyped or having to prove they are capable of their skills based on their race. Another student said she wants to keep a mindset to strive for better than average goals.

Bowles said, while racism along with discrimination may exist, it does not need to hold anyone back.

You have to persevere through that. You have to fly above that in society, noting ancestors faced an insurmountable amount of struggle beforehand.

Leadership development presenters included James H. Bowles, director of cultural diversity at MCC, and MCC English professor Brooke Archila. Bill McReynolds served as keynote speaker during the luncheon. Pennyrile State Resort Park manager Peter Bowles, Felicia Chisholm of State Farm and Virgil Bowles and Amy Stephens of Elliott Mortuary served as panelists.

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