Youths from across Kent County learned that a positive attitude, the wisdom to save money and taking care of one's body with the proper nutrition were among the crucial ingredients to excelling in life during at a symposium held for them at Delaware State University Saturday.
DSU sorority Sigma Gamma Rho Inc.'s graduate chapter, Delta Tau Sigma, and undergrad chapter, Zeta Delta, held their 16th annual youth symposium in conjunction with symposiums held across America nationwide, said organizer Keisha Kilson, a Delta Tau Sigma member. This year's theme was healthy living and healthy choices.
The symposium drew 35 students from such school districts as the Capital, Caesar Rodney, Lake Forest and Smyrna school districts, Kilson said.
During the leadership session, speaker Jerry "Doc" Semper, president of Semper Associates Coaching Academy, told students that they could not accomplish much in life with a bad attitude. For example, students were on the wrong track if they blamed everybody but themselves for a bad grade they received on a test.
"It's interesting how we make the time to play basketball but don't make the time to study math," Semper said. "School is your job. And you need to listen to older people who have been there before. "
Semper asked the students if they understood what he was saying, and W.T. Chipman Middle School seventh grader Liam Stiller raised his hand.
"If you tell yourself you're going to get good grades, then you will," said Stiller, whose school is in the Lake Forest district.
"That's what I'm talking about," Semper said. "You're going to get what you want in life because you're using your noggin. You can make up your mind from this day forward that you're going to have a positive attitude and adopt it as part of your persona."
During the financial session, University of Maryland, Baltimore Assistant Director of Financial Education Tisa Silver-Canady advised students to not fall for the many traps laid for them on television and other media. For instance, the rappers talking in music videos about the money and girls they had were in reality broke, Silver-Canady said.
Page 2 of 2 - "Their videos are financed by record companies who want you to spend your money," she said. "What you have to do is separate reality from reality TV."
Instead of falling into the trap of spending money, Silver-Canady urged students to save their money now so that they would not be scrambling and struggling to make ends meet later in life. As a dramatic illustration, Silver-Canady asked students if they would believe that she had saved $250,000 by the time she was 24 years old. Incredulous, the students said it was likely since Silver-Canady worked in clerical and secretarial positions as a young student.
But she went on to tell them that she received undergraduate and graduate scholarships to the University of Delaware, where she went to school for seven years completely on UD's dime. Therefore, she saved a quarter of a million dollars instead of being in debt for that amount.
Students also learned, among other things, the basics of nutrition and exercise with Asia Thurston, a nutritionist with the Food Bank of Delaware; how to make healthy and wise choices with Larry Morris, a constituent services liaison with U.S. Rep. John Carney and using chemistry to assist in police investigations from Delaware State Police Crime Lab forensic chemist Cynthia McCarthy.
The lessons offered at the youth symposium were the reason Chipman English teacher Altee McMillian offered her students extra credit if they were willing to attend the educational event at DSU. McMillian is a Delta Tau Sigma graduate member of Sigma Gamma Rho, the symposium's host.
"We learned some great things today, including most importantly I think, having the right attitude," she said.
Chipman seventh grader Hannah Pritchett-Pase, for one, said she would try to have a better attitude.
"If I think negative, then negative things will happen," Pritchett-Pase said. "I have to wake up every morning and think positive."