SUNY Partners With Brookhaven Lab to Commemorate Pres. Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative

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Brookhaven National Lab Last year, President Barack Obama launched the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) initiative to “address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.”

This month, SUNY at Old Westbury partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Brookhaven Lab to commemorate the second anniversary of MBK and discuss the importance of mentorship, STEM, and continuing education for young men of color. ?

“Last week at Brookhaven Lab, we came together to encourage more African American and Latino males to study in the STEM areas by showing them what’s possible. We had a panel of men comprised of two professors, one entrepreneur, and one who was working at Brookhaven who talked about how they got started in their various careers and, from a material standpoint, that they were making money. And we are going to have another one similar to it on April 19 on the campus of Old Westbury. That will be a big one to introduce these young men to all of the potential opportunities, to have them experience the labs, talk with professors, and all of those things,” Calvin Butts, president of Old Westbury and Reverend of Abyssinian Baptist Church, told TNJ.com

And according to Butts, there are many challenges keeping these young men from reaching their full potential.

“For starters, they don’t know the opportunities that are available to them in these areas. There’s a lack of knowledge. Secondly, there’s poor preparation. During the high school stages of their lives, they are not getting the kind of exposure to the kind of teachers and materials that would strengthen them in the area of Math, in particular.  Third, there is a lack of money for them to study. For example, if a young man comes to our college, he needs to be able to study and do research without interruption, meaning he shouldn’t have to work. He should be able to participate without having to worry about a nine to five job, which many of them do, and without having to be concerned about supporting their families back home and a lot of other pressures. They need to be able to come to school and focus their attention on their studies. We need scholarship dollars to support that,” he says.

Butts added that at Old Westbury, school officials are working on getting more lab facilities and instruments such as microscopes, Bunsen burners and Petri Dishes. They also hope to get more professors.   

The event took place at Brookhaven in Upton, New York.

“At the event, young men came to realize that they can be whatever they want to be.  They now know that they have the support of the Obama administration as well as the diversity department at the U.S. Department of Energy’s laboratories. Their eyes are now opened up to what is happening at Brookhaven. We also had some of our industry partners from the Minorities in Energy Initiative attend the event. It is focused on STEM education and workforce development opportunities for entrepreneurship. We told them that they can become a scientist, mathematician or engineer and help change the world,” La Doris Harris, director of the DOE’s Office of Diversity, told TNJ.com.   ?