Students take Washington D.C.

GSU students gather during the Thurgood Marshall Leadership Institute conference.

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) picked 12 Grambling State University students to join the 18th Annual Thurgood Marshall Leadership Institute (LI) conference.

The four-day conference was held at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. Oct. 26-30.

The purpose of LI was to advance the students’ leadership skills and provide companies access to a talented, diverse student population. It was also designed to help students make meaningful connections that lead to successful internships, fellowships and careers at Fortune 500 companies and government agencies.

Vel Malone, Associate director of Alumni Affairs, serves as a liaison between TMCF and GSU students.

“It is a wonderful experience,” Malone said. “It is a fantastic opportunity for any student selected to go, being put in front of hundreds of Fortune 100 companies and given the opportunity to sell yourself. It is an opportunity that they may not have otherwise. It is also a great tool to practice your skill set, interviewing skills and just the chance to be in a corporate setting. It is a great learning experience to get students better prepared for life after Grambling.”

Malone established a relationship between TMCF and the students by getting the students prepped for interviews, making sure they meet all criteria including GPA, judicial affairs records and make sure students do their part by completing webinars to attend the LI conference.

Among the 12 GSU students in attendance, this was the second time Faron Rush, a 22-year-old senior from Chicago majoring in computer information systems and business management, has participated in the conference.

“I heard about TMCF from colleagues at other schools, I won a scholarship from TMCF before,”  Rush said. “My experience was great, I had a chance to interview with seven different Fortune 100 companies and network with tons of other leaders from different HBCUs.

“I was able to tell them how I could add value to their company, why I am more an asset and not a liability. The conference was very productive.”
Rush said it was an honor to be selected to attend the leadership institute

“It lets me know I am doing everything I need to do as a student, more importantly as an HBCU student,” Rush said. “I am putting out the right image, energy. I’m carrying myself with the right mindset and perspective.”

This year the conference had over 1,000 attendees including 400 plus students and 600 corporate, government, graduate program partners, speakers and recruiters.

 The Thurgood Marshall Leadership Institute is one of the biggest talent and development recruiting conferences for students who attend HBCUs.

“I think this impacted my future tremendously because I am able to start my professional career due to the offers from the leadership institute,” Rush said. “[It is] a good jumpstart to my career after college. My advice to students would be to make sure you are critiquing your resume as you add more experience.

“Also, would recommend that you practice your elevator pitch, practice knowing what to say when you only have about 15-30 seconds to meet with employers. Know how to stand out and articulate your strengths.”

Student Ambassadors host various meet and greets throughout the year for students who may be interested in participating in the next conference. They also host workshops both fall and spring semester. For more information, visit