In the spirit of Bee the Difference Month, St. Ambrose University students, staff and alumni helped make a difference in the lives of QC youth on November 17 at the 16th Quad City Minority Partnership (QCMP) Youth Leadership Conference. The annual event invites local high school students to campus to learn more about the college search process, building leadership skills, the benefits of networking and more.
Conference workshop topics included mental health awareness, an overview of the college enrollment process and a Q&A panel with current St. Ambrose students. Senior forensic psychology student Ashley Williams said a similar program would have benefitted her as a first-generation college student.
"I volunteered for the student panel today because I wanted to make a difference in these youths' lives," Williams said. "As a first-generation college student, I didn't have a lot of people I could turn to for guidance, so being here today and answering any questions these students have means a lot to me."
Mid-City High School student Kiana Carey said the event helped her learn more about opportunities after high school.
"I've made a lot of connections today and learned more about what St. Ambrose can offer after high school. I'm happy that St. Ambrose and QCMP gave us this opportunity," Carey said.
Carey plans to study secondary education and become a high school teacher after graduation. While she hasn't made a final decision yet, she said speaking with St. Ambrose students at the event only increased her interest in attending SAU. Carey also said she feels more prepared for her future after attending event workshops and the career fair, which featured over 10 local employers.
"My favorite workshop from today was Ty's presentation," Carey said. "He talked a lot about how important it is to have the right mindset, put yourself out there and say yes to opportunities."
Ty Lewis ‘22, management trainee at Quad City Bank and Trust, shared the importance of professional networking, helping others and finding value in a career path.
"I was at a volunteer event and I happened to stumble upon some leaders in the community," Lewis shared his story with a group of over 20 students. "Six months later I was blessed with a full-ride scholarship to St. Ambrose."
Lewis graduated from SAU in 2022 with a bachelor's degree in finance and continues to be active in the QC community, mentoring six local high schoolers and serving on the United Way Quad Cities board of directors.
"It was a no-brainer when I was asked if I wanted to be a part of this event," Lewis said. "I attended when I was in high school and it was a huge benefit."
During Bee the Difference Month, Lewis said making a difference means showing up and helping others rather than donating money.
"I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for the people that helped me," he said. "So I am returning that favor."