The Florida A&M University Educational Talent Research Program collaborated with the Leon County mayor's office, Leon County school's Booker T. Washington Success Academy, and the Beta Nu Chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity incorporated to present Youth Empowerment Day on Saturday.
The event was held in the FAMU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences auditorium.
Frank Haynes, director of the FAMU educational talent search program, said the day is a first for the Leon County Community.
"The youth empowerment day is the first collaboration effort but educational talent program has been on campus for thirty years," Haynes said. "This trio is made up of educational talent, Upward Bound and the Ronald McNair math and science program. It has been part of FAMU for some time."
Haynes said 200 students from all around Gadsden county were invited to this program to experience many of the events and the people on FAMU's campus this past Saturday, like the ESPN game day special, FAMU's last football game of 2008 and, of course, the youth empowerment day.
During the young students' time at FAMU for the youth empowerment day, they got the chance to socialize with the enrichment program and experience Greek letter organizations.
The volunteers of the program taught the young students a few chants to prepare them for the football game.
Gallop Franklin, 21, a fourth year pharmacy student from Tallahassee, said the youth empowerment day gives young students a reason to look forward to their future.
"It exposes them to various facets of college life. Some students may come from a low socioeconomic environment, so this program gives positive reinforcement," Franklin said. "(They) can go back to their schools and say hey, I met a 21-year-old pharmacy student or that they met a student who plays football which gives them hope that one day they can make it there."
Andrew Collins, 23, student government association president and fifth year business administration student from Atlanta, Ga., explained how important the empowerment day is to FAMU and its students.
"The youth empowerment day brings different resources together to create an environment for the young to experience college life and how to make it. The future of the school depends on the quality of students we attract," Collins said. "It's important to foster learning development within the young men and women who are coming before they arrive and this program is just another avenue by which that can happen."
Many of the college students and invited guests from Tallahassee's government, said the program was more than beneficial to the youth of Tallahassee.
Larry Thompson, the special projects coordinator with the Leon County school district, explained how the program targets black youth with a low expected graduation rate.
"They're put into this intervention to allow them to graduate from high school and to matriculate to an outstanding institution such as FAMU," Thompson said. "(I'm) greatly appreciative for the opportunity to collaborate with the FAMU educational talent search program and look forward to developing a very close relationship with FAMU."
Calvin Hayes, 20, a junior public relations student from Orlando, was the lead counselor for the program. He said this event is important to FAMU.
"(It is) the essence of giving back to the community," Hayes said. "Not only that, but it exposes students from all across Florida to higher education at the best institute in the world, FAMU." He said the students came from broken homes where college would not even be mentioned.
"From what you get you can make a living, but from what you give you can make a life," Hayes said. "It is important to preserve the legacy of FAMU and to expose these young students to a quality education."
Hayes said the event changed some student's lives.
"(It) powerfully affects these students," he said. "They automatically look up to us as role models because they see students who came from the same neighborhood as they did and encourages them to take the right path."
Cory Jackson, an 8th grade student from Fairview middle school, said the opportunity gave him better insight.
"It gives me an understanding of how black Americans had to work hard for what they have now," Jackson said.