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Dr. Francisca Beer and Marina Kamel | CSUSB JHBC Office Academic Equity

I’m Graduating! What’s Next? was the topic of an event organized by Dr. Francisca Beer, alongside her team in the Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration (JHBC) Office of Academic Equity (OAE). On February 24th, 2022 the office hosted its Fourth Annual Essential Conversations with African American Men. With over 75 attendees and participants, the event was well-received by California State University of San Bernardino’s (CSUSB) faculty, students, and staff, as well as alumni and community members.

An Encouraging Welcome

The event  was hosted by Dr. Beer, a Finance Professor, an Associate Dean, and Director of the JHBC Office of Academic Equity at CSUSB.

Dr. Beer welcomed three (3) generations of JHBC Deans; the former dean, Dr. Lawrence Rose who is also the founding dean of the JHBC Office of Academic Equity (JHBC OAE); the current Interim Dean, Dr. Shanthi Srinivas who has been holding down the fort since Dr. Rose’s retirement in 2021;and  Dr. Tómas Gómez-Arias who the college will officially welcome in July, 2022.

After encouraging words from the deans, Dr. Beer presented an overview of JHBC OAE’s achievements and announced the launch of the JHBC OAE Opportunity Fund.  The fund is designed to provide several monetary awards ranging from $500 to $1,000 to eligible students. The application was available on the office’s website earlier this year. 

The Facts – A Presentation by Dr. Francisca Beer

Dr. Francisca Beer,  a Finance Professor, an Associate Dean, and Director of the JHBC Office of Academic Equity at CSUSB, presented an overview of the JHBC OAE’s  achievements and announced the launch of the JHBC OAE Opportunity Fund. (source:

Dr. Beer’s presentation compared unemployment rates between African American men versus others. Her research shows that education skills, and work experience played a large part in these rates. Marriage and health were noted as other reasons for the lower employment rates.  Unfortunately, discrimination as well as social and spatial isolation, continue to play an important part.

Dr. Beer’s presentation also compared graduation rates between genders and ethnic groups.  Although education is not yet the “great equalizer,” it should be. She indicated that the 4-year graduation rate doubled for Black men who entered as freshmen at the CSU.

Dr. Beer couldn’t end her presentation without some tips for our graduates, i.e. tailor your resume to each employer, check for new job postings frequently, use your alumni network, keep up with industry news, prepare for job interviews, and “Learn from each other” which leads us into the conversation.

Mr. Marek LeBlanc says “W.O.R.K”

Mr. Marek LeBlanc, a professor of Management at CSUSB was the keynote speaker for this event. LeBlanc, who has more than 30 years experience as a banker, shared his experience growing up in Compton and buying his first home as a young gentleman in Moreno Valley. LeBlanc asked all participants to remember that success means WORK.  For LeBlanc WORK stands for “When Opportunity Reaches Knowledge”.

Learn From Each Other

The JHBC OAE has also recruited a panel of African American men to share their experience and tips for success. The JHBC OAE wants to thank all the panelists, i.e. Mr. Anthony Roberson, Associate Director of Operations at CSUSB’s Santos Manuel Student Union; Mr. Aaron Burgess, an Associate Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students at Cal State LA; Mr. Alton Garrett of Garrett Management Group, LLC; Mr. King Adjei-Frimpong who has been in the social impact space his entire career; Director of Support Services at Covenant House California, Mr. Anthony Conley; Mr. Kevon Lee, a motivational speaker with his own business; Director of Project Impact at CSUSB, Mr. Marcus Reynolds; Director of User Operations at Siembra Mobile, Mr. Frederick Jones; Mr. Nicholas Akingbemi who is the Visionary and Founder of OddBalls Consulting and Educational Services, Inc. and Community Engagement Officer at UC Irvine Police Department. 

The panelists all agreed that having a mentor helps when they need advice and guidance but also when they just need a listening ear. Mr. Adjei-Frimpong stated, “you never know who will drop a gem when”.  While Mr. Akingbemi recommended DOPE, an acronym meaning, “Deliberate, Optimistic, Purposeful, and Engagement”.

Mr. Roberson shared his story of starting from the bottom and moving his way up to becoming the Associate Director he is now, helping build the new SMSU building on campus. Meanwhile, Mr. Lee recalled the response from his teacher in sophomore year of high school when she asked the class who wanted to go to college? Mr. Lee reveals, “I raised my hand. I wanna go to college,” and this teacher looked at him and said, “you, college, please.” He went on to explain how hurt and angry he felt at the time. But that wasn’t the end for him. He was motivated when he talked with a person of color who revealed to him they had a Ph.D. He proudly announced he is now going back to school to pursue his Masters in Higher Education.

Pier Advisor Cameron Slater, left, talks with freshman Dreshaun Harper inside the Network for Student Success offices at Pulaski Technical College in North Little Rock, Ark. October 8, 2014. (photo by STEPHEN B. THORNTON)

Those in attendance were inspired by the end of the night and were actively discussing the topic in the chat-box and sharing their contact information. An event that intended to motivate and inspire soon-to-be graduating students became an event for everyone.

Don’t Let Barriers Stop Success

Dr. Annika Anderson, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology closed off the 4th Annual Essential Conversations with African American Men by stating, “there are still ways to move forward and that is by tapping into your networks and that is by using the resources that you have available”.

The 4th Annual Essential Conversations: “I’m Graduating! What’s Next?” had over 75 participants and the JHBC Office of Academic Equity is looking forward to holding more events like this in the near future.

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