Summit targets students from HBCUs, high schools

The New Orleans Convention Company Inc. held its third annual Bayou Classic University-Business Summit in Shreveport on Friday, Nov. 6. The workshop included three seminars that were called Economic Opportunities for Business, Workforce Development, and Cyber Technology that featured GSU’s Dr. Otto Meyers, Interim VP, Advancement, Research, and Economic Development as the moderator.

Dottie Belletto, president of NOCCI, helped organize the annual event. “[W]e needed to bring our corporate leaders to the table to have conversations with our college professors and our school leadership so that we can determine what that next workforce has got to be,” said Belletto.

This was the summit’s first year being held in Shreveport and not during the usual Bayou Classic events as it had been in the first two years. “Because of the holiday time period that we have with Bayou Classic,” said Belletto, “many of these corporate presidents and corporations can’t participate with us because it’s the only time they have with their families and we understand that.”

The NOCCI decided to move the University-Business Summit to north Louisiana in Caddo Parish and travel around the state to target Historically Black College and University students primarily Grambling and Southern University. Belletto said that they are going conduct another summit in south Louisiana in the spring. “So we’ll be traveling around the state doing these programs,” said Belletto.   

KEION HAYES/The Gramblinite Students listen attentively to the panelists.

KEION HAYES/The Gramblinite
Students listen attentively to the panelists.

Hall of Fame baseball coach Wilbert Ellis was in attendance during the Friday morning program.  Ellis was staying in Shreveport for the Red River Classic Gala that night and for the football game against Texas Southern University on the following day. “Where ever Grambling is I’m there,” said Ellis. 

He said he had known Mrs. Belletto for the past five years. “They wanted me to see what they were trying to do,” said Ellis “and what they were trying to expose to the students, to get the students involved and let them know what’s out there in the business world.” 

Coach Ellis said that he thought the information was very valuable for success.

The Bayou Classic University-Business Summit not only attracted college students but also high school students as well. Two groups of high school students joined each of the last sessions. Homer High School from Homer, Louisiana was very engaged in the Workforce Development seminar. Some of the Fair Park High School seniors out of Shreveport were there for the Cyber Technology session.

“Today it was a beautiful thing because when I begin to think about it,” said Belletto, “we have to start with high school.” They want to inspire them and give in them passion now so that they stay in high school and graduate. 

Homer High School student Jamarquez Pleasant, 17, said that he really enjoyed the program. “(I learned) that it’s more ways to connect through technology.”

Terry Walker Jr., a Homer High School junior, who has Grambling in one of his top college choices, said that the session helped him guide in the direction of where he wants to pursue his future career. “With computer science and IT,” said Walker, I still haven’t found what a really want to be. I haven’t found my gift.”

The workshop was beneficial to them so they can start thinking about future careers prior to college according to Belletto.