“The A-List: Successfully Connected,” was as successful as the name implies. This event was produced by the A-List Network, a program developed by Youth Action, a youth-led community development non-profit operated by high school and college students in Philadelphia. The purpose of the A-List Network is for Black College students from Greater Philadelphia to establish personal contacts of individuals that can support their life’s ambitions, campus (both individual and organizational) endeavors, and also discover how, collectively, schools can have a greater impact on their college campuses and the community at-large.
The event was held on Friday, April 22nd at The Hall of Flags, on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. Black college students from across the Philadelphia region, including Drexel, Temple, UPenn, Villanova, West Chester and many more, were there to take part in this unique networking experience.Honestly, this event was extremely well put together. As guests walked into the Hall of Flags, they were greeted by lovely ladies who welcomed them to the event, and directed them to the registration table. After registration, attendees were told to go downstairs were the rest of the guests had gathered, mingling until the program started. At 7PM on the dot, Gavin Grant, spokesperson for Youth Action, addressed the guests with opening remarks.
“Unfortunately, there is a perspective carried by some individuals from various college communities that places more emphasis on intercollegiate athletics and competition, rather than collaboration on meaningful projects,” explains Youth Action Spokesperson, Gavin Grant. “We’ve created an enjoyable and uplifting event with meaningful end goals that include uniting and encouraging Black college students from different schools in the Philadelphia area to embrace the notion of collective campus and community action.”
After the opening remarks, the students were asked to take out their “bingo-like” sheet that they were given upon registration and were asked to find other students, outside of their college community, that matched a spot on their bingo sheet. The card had boxes that said things like “this person has a twitter”, or “this person is the first in their family to attend college.” This exercise allowed students to meet new people outside of their respective colleges and also learn a small detail about them. Many guests were sharing twitter usernames and email addresses, which made this a successful activity.
Following the first networking activity, there was a performance by singer, Cecily Brumbay, a student at Swarthmore College. She sang a cover of Like A Star by Corinne Bailey Rae and did an amazing job. Sometimes, when singers cover a song by another artist, they tend to imitate them too much. Cecily did a great job at making the song her own and letting everyone in attendance hear how talented she is. Later on in the evening she performed her new single, “Crazy for You.”
There were also performances by Temple University’s spoken word performance group, Babel and the University of Pennsylvania’s R&B and Soul Acappella group, The Inspiration, who performed “Been So Long” by Anita Baker.
At registration, students were randomly given a colored wristband. The wristbands were later used to separate the students into groups for the next networking activity. The attendees were asked to either sit at one of the reception tables or meet in the middle of the room and gather around the standing tables. Each table had a card on it that discussed a problem in our society or a topic of interest that the students were asked to talk about among the people at their table. The room filled with voices as intelligent and educated black students from around the greater Philadelphia area debated and provided facts pertaining to their topic.The event ended with music, dancing, and a few closing remarks from the amazing students that helped put the event together, which included, Anthony Phillips, Alan-Michael Hill, Robert Clegg, Dominique Bandoo, Bianca Lewis, Oyinda Adefioye, Ashley Patterson, Anthony Heyward, Gabriella Jackson, and, of course, Gavin Grant, all members of Youth Action.
“I’m extremely delighted that all our hard work went to a cause that positively uplifted the Black community all while fostering long-lasting relationships among various college campuses,” said Oyinda Adefioye, “many of the people that I spoke to after the event expressed interest in getting involved with Youth Action’s vision and that speaks to the success of the occasion. This is definitely an event to be remembered and built upon in the near future. I look forward to witnessing the positive outcomes that occur as a result of the significance and success of the A-List. ”
Many of the students left the Hall of Flags with a feeling of motivation and empowerment, not to mention contacts of young professional students that can possibly help them fulfill their goals and ambitions on campus and off campus. It’s not every day that black college students get to interact with other black college students outside of a party setting (it’s also not every day that they would even want to!), but this event proved that we all can get together and try to make a difference in our community and be the change that we wish to see.