BMI hosts leadership conference

By Ryan Chambers

With roughly 50 males in attendance, Black Male Initiative (BMI) in association with Student African American Brotherhood hosted its third ever Leadership Conference Saturday.

The all-day event, which began at 10 a.m., was open to all males and featured motivational speeches.

Some of the speakers included Jonathan Tadesse, LaBrian Carrington, Steve Birdine and NIU Police Chief Donald Grady, said BMI President Robert Payne.

“This was only our third ever conference with our first being held in 2006 and our last in 2008,” Payne said. “The whole purpose of this conference was to give African American males a better perspective of college life, while also helping them to set goals while trying to get your degree. African American males go through experiences in college that a lot of people can’t relate to, and we just wanted to bring in some speakers to keep them motivated and uplifted for when they do leave NIU’s campus.”

After attending the conference, sophomore marketing major Jarrel Sylvers said he learned a lot about himself.

“I’ve learned to examine myself more deeply,” Sylvers said. “Self-examination is a big part of my life, and in college that is something you definitely have to do.”

The conference, which saw its highest attendance ever, was seen as nothing more than a product of the organization’s founder, Don Bramlett.

“Don Bramlett really is a great man,” said Glenn Marshall, senior communications major and a four-year member of BMI. “He does a lot more than what is listed in his job description. If it wasn’t for him, half of us wouldn’t be here.”

Bramlett, who has been a part of the NIU community for over two decades, said he is simply doing his job.

“I just try to put myself out there as much as I can to help students,” Bramlett said. “A lot of students need, but can’t get answers to important questions in life, and I try to find them those answers. I may not always say yes, but I always give students an answer.”

Grady had bits of wisdom to share with the audience at the conference.

Grady said he decided to speak at the conference simply because he was asked.

“If I don’t come out when someone has asks me to, I wouldn’t be doing my job. It is all about building relationships within your community,” Grady said. “If I can help students in any way possible, I will. Now, if they accept my help or not, is their choice.”