ESSEX, N.Y., Nov. 4, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "You are not tomorrow's leaders….you are today's leaders," stated CFES President & CEO Rick Dalton during his opening remarks to 350 participants at the 2015 College For Every Student (CFES) National Conference in Burlington, Vermont.
Attendees were motivated by the presentations of two keynote speakers: Lucille O'Neal, author and mother of NBA great Shaquille O'Neal, and Dr. Calvin Mackie, founder of STEMNOLA, an organization dedicated to encouraging young persons' interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
Both O'Neal and Mackie struck similar chords: hope transforms lives; you must have a dream; and college IS for every student.
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (NY-21), who, was the first member of her family to graduate from college, a characteristic shared by the majority of the 25,000 CFES Scholars currently enrolled in 200 schools in 30 U.S. states delivered closing remarks.
As a nation, Cong. Stefanik said, we must address the "crisis of college affordability," adding that the current aggregate college student loan debt is $1.3 trillion and growing.
Since 1991, CFES has helped more than 100,000 mostly low-income students in more than 700 K-12 urban and rural schools improve academic achievement, attain the "Essential Skills," and ultimately graduate from high school and succeed in college.
Celebrating its 25th year, CFES built the conference around the theme: Closing the Skills Gap: Ensuring that Low-Income Students are College & Career Ready.
Kelli Wells, Executive Director of Education and Skills for the GE Foundation stated, "It's not the college you graduated from or your academic degree that's important to employers," she said. "What's important is: have you developed the essential skills that will enable you to succeed in your job?"
She listed grit, perseverance, resiliency, adaptability, and teamwork as the qualities that employers are seeking and that workers must have to succeed in the 21st Century workforce.
Dr. David Attis, Senior Director of Research at the Education Advisory Board, addressed the Degree Completion Gap: nearly half of all American students drop out of college. Developing strong mentoring programs, often implemented by community, corporate and college resources, is a key strategy in improving college retention, he said.
In closing the conference, CFES Program Director Hasan Davis electrified the audience.
"We in CFES are 'hope dealers,'" he concluded. "CFES is a brave, bold idea. We level the playing field so that college is indeed for every student."
CONTACT: Aubrey Bresett, 518-963-4500, Aubrey@collegefes.org
SOURCE College For Every Student