Multicultural Student Group Presents at National Conference
by Kaela Fuentes, Outreach Chair, F.E.A.–MESA
In February, the six student chair members of the Future Educators Association and Multicultural Education Students Association (F.E.A.–MESA) attended the Future Educators Association National Conference in Denver. Hundreds of middle and high school students, chapter advisors, college representatives, and students annually attend the conference. The conference helps all attendees network with other F.E.A. members from around the country while they participate in workshops and listen to renowned speakers.
Friday night kicked off with featured speaker, Aaron Davis, followed by a state roll call where participants from each state were recognized. However, the real work began on the second day of the conference. Based on proposals we submitted last year, we were selected to present two workshops at the conference.
Early Saturday morning, we made our way to our workshop room and began setting up for our presentation. As the F.E.A. students made their way into the room, we knew it was time to put our weeks of preparation to use. During the “What to Expect as an Education Major” workshop, we spoke to the attendees about various requirements of an education major such as volunteer and work experiences, clearances and education classes, and appropriate ways to act not only as an education student but also as a professional educator. We also discussed lifestyle topics like how to stay healthy in college, getting along with a roommate, and ways to get involved on campus. Each chair member offered personal advice and testaments on what worked and did not work for them as they progress through their own Penn State careers. Our audience asked great questions and even stayed in the room over the allotted time to ask different chair members for their e-mail addresses. The first workshop session was a success, and the second presentation was just as popular.
Following an inspirational speech at lunch by keynote speaker Ron Clark we proceeded to our afternoon workshop session titled “How to Have a Successful F.E.A. Chapter at the Collegiate Level.” We presented an efficient and informative seminar on how F.E.A. - MESA works, what activities we coordinate throughout the year, and ideas to help students transition from high school to college. Our audience was quite different from our morning workshops, and we had the opportunity to meet with other college students, advisors, and college representatives, all interested in starting their own F.E.A. chapter or strengthening their current chapter. We had in-depth conversations about what we, as chapter chairs, felt were vital aspects of an effective chapter and what specific activities were most appealing to our members.
Attending the conference was a challenging and yet very rewarding experience. We had the opportunity to experience a fun city and beautiful part of the country, connect with students from all over the United States, give them a small preview of what they will be experiencing in a few short years, and advise other college students and advisors on how we make our F.E.A. Chapter as successful as possible. We came away from Denver with many feelings, but Omela Boodhansingh, Professional Development Chair, described it best when she said, “The conference was a great experience not only as a student but also as a future professional.” We hope that next year’s conference in San Antonio is just as successful!
We are now preparing for the Pennsylvania State Conference. The state conference is annually held here at Penn State, hosted by F.E.A.–MESA and the Office of Multicultural Programs. It will take place on Friday, April 17 in the Hetzel Union Building-Paul Robeson Cultural Center.
F.E.A–Mesa is a student organization in the College of Education. Their main goal is to develop a supportive coalition of underrepresented students within the college, aimed at promoting feelings of inclusion within the college community, developing a network of support for students working towards common career goals and giving a voice to the struggles, concerns, and achievements of underrepresented students.
F.E.A.–MESA is unique in that it is comprised of a group of chair members, rather than an executive cabinet. The chairs are:
- Omela Boodhansigh RHS, Professional Development Chair
- Jade Cheng, E K Ed, Public Relations Chair
- Ting Ting Dong, Edu, Networking Chair
- Kaela Fuentes, Spl Ed, Outreach Chair
- Alicia Owen, Edu, Socio-Cultural Chair
- Bryan Wills, E K Ed, Finance Chair
By using chairs rather than a traditional cabinet, the organization emphasizes the “MESA” part of its name. Mesa in Spanish means table and through the use of chair positions, the organization highlights the importance of equality, with each chair having an equal share in all decisions.