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4 takeaways from Mayor Levine Cava’s gathering with students

4 takeaways from Mayor Levine Cava’s gathering with students

As part of Black History Month, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and members of her team engaged in a conversation with Black students to discuss their most pressing issues.

February 28, 2023 at 3:40pm

By Ethan Torres

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava met with Black student leaders recently to discuss a variety of topics. Her team as well as university administrators together addressed subjects related to student wellbeing and working toward career goals.

“Having such inspiring panelists that described their experiences as Black professionals resonated and helped give an insight into how we can navigate the workforce with the gaps and all,” said Sasha Narinesingh, a marketing senior in the College of Business. 

The panelists included the heads of various county departments as well as students representing the campus chapters of Progressive Black Men, the National Society of Black Women in Medicine and National Council of Negro Women. Together they offered suggestions for how to get the most out of one’s education and how to find ways forward when the going gets tough.

Build a pool of mentors.
Panelists spoke on the importance of finding a mentor who can offer guidance on the path to a career. Mentors might be found in campus organizations, in the classroom or through internships. Students voiced challenges in finding mentors that could relate to their identity and personal experiences, mostly due to lack of representation at the faculty and professional level as in the example of women of color in STEM fields. And finding a single mentor who meets all needs can be diificult, panelists agreed. They suggested seeking out multiple mentors who can complement one another and together address career path, identity and personal experiences,

Combat microaggressions with dignity.
Panelists and students shared their experiences with microaggressions and racism, making it clear that work still needs to be done to make schools and workplaces safer for minorities. While each had his or her own approach to dealing with such incidents – clapping back, standing up for oneself, ignoring it, using the opportunity to educate others – JD Patterson, the county's chief of corrections and forensics, had one overriding concern: to make sure “your response makes you proud of yourself.” How you react shouldn’t generate regret, he says, but instead let your values guide your response.

Imposter syndrome is real – and can be overcome.
Everyone has feelings of self-doubt, that they don’t belong. Panelists emphasized the need to reframe this self-doubt. Bill Diggs, executive director of Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust, encourages students to “believe you’re the best in the room, and then you’ll become the best.” Deputy Director of Economic Development Michaeljohn Green offered, “If you got into a room, there are at least two people who believe you should be there: you, and the person that got you in.” Move forward with that knowledge, he said. Marcus Bright, youth services administrator for the Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust, added, “I practice gratitude. Every morning I write down 10 things I’m grateful for or 10 things I’ve accomplished.” The activity can help build up one's self-esteem, he explained. As much as you may feel inadequate, he went on, there is power in appreciating who you are and what you’ve done.

Take advantage of resources and opportunities at FIU.
Panelists agreed on the value of campus resources - such as clubs, jobs and internships - as a way to get ahead. These experiences can put one in contact with people who are already successful in their desired field. Utilizing such resources and building one’s network by introducing yourself to people in positions you want to be in will pay dividends, Michaeljohn Green explained. Bright concluded by saying, “You could work hard for four years, or you could work hard for the rest of your life. You can define your future right here at FIU. Taking advantage of these opportunities during school can open up numerous possibilities and make career goals easier to attain."