African American leadership conference brings students from across Central Valley

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Hundreds of students headed to Clovis for an inspiring message about being a leader in our community. Keynote speaker Brandi Richard said there was a time in her life when she felt she couldn't overcome a painful experience she endured. Yet, years later, she rose up and took control of her own future.

Richard told the students, "Sometimes the things you most need to learn are the things that you teach other people and I finally got to the point that I started to love and value myself."

The message rang true to many of the 550 Central Valley students who headed to Clovis North High School's campus for the 2015 African American Student Leadership Conference.

Ezra Cato Scott, a junior at Clovis West HS, said, "I really liked her message she was giving to all of the students to never give up on themselves and to keep pushing through."

The theme was "Ignite your future and your dreams." Students came from Hanford, Fresno, Madera and Clovis.

Event Coordinator Angie Barfiled said, "Empowering them and sharing with them about their heritage and their history but also that they're brilliant and they can do amazing things during this month. I think it's very important."

After the speeches, students headed over to a college and career fair to get an even closer look at their future. Local universities, military branches and even technology companies set up booths to talk to the students about their options and mentor them. The students were also talked to about social media- being smart about what you post and using it to send a greater message.

Aislyn Brown, a sophomore at Clovis North, said, "That's probably the best way to reach them. We were on Instagram probably while some people were speaking so it makes sense."

"Social media is so prevalent," said Barfield. "That's how they communicate with one another but what they don't realize is that's how they communicate with the world."

Organizers hope the students here bring the message of excellence and character when they go back to their campuses. 22 schools were represented at the conference and to them that's at least 22 reasons to inspire today's youth.

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