PULLMAN, Wash. — African American high school and college students are registering for the VIBES/Visionaries Inspiring Black Empowered Students Conference at Washington State University, March 5-6.
WSU, the university’s chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., and the Black Women’s Caucus sponsor the meeting.
Conference organizers selected the VIBES name to unify the success of the same WSU event with two separate names. The BOLD/Black Male Orientation to Leadership Development was held for six years and the AAW/African American Women’s conference for five years.
As in past years, the event will have separate women’s and men’s programs on the WSU campus.
More than 600 students are expected to participate. Organizers say that based on past conference registrants, many participants will be inner city residents from the Puget Sound’s King, Pierce and Thurston counties. There will also be a number of students who participate from the Spokane area, they say.
The conference theme is “You Reap what You Sow: Planting the Seeds of Black Excellence.” During VIBES, participants will acquire leadership skills, improve their access to higher education and jobs, and explore the historical perspectives of African American culture. Understanding how health issues affect the African American community and building a positive self-image are other conference topics, say conference co-chairs Jai Elliott, WSU College of Business and Economics student recruitment director, and J. J. Oliver, WSU Admissions program assistant.
Conference keynote speaker will be Ronald Rochon, director, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s Master of Education-Professional Development Program. Also speaking will be registered nurse Shauna Weatherby, an advanced practice registered nurse. She is an obstetrics/gynecology nurse practitioner for Planned Parenthood of Western Washington. In her presentation she will discuss the dangers of sexually transmitted inflections and HIV. Historian Al Gourrier, an area specialist for the University of Nevada-Reno’s Cooperative Extension Southern Area office in Las Vegas, will also speak.
Conference speakers also include Herb Delaney, WSU African American Student Center counselor; Angela Jones, Eastern Washington University assistant director for transfer recruitment; and Milton Lang, WSU College of Education director of recruitment.
“Knowledge is Power” is the title of the presentation by Carl Mack, a Seattle mechanical engineer. His research developed the Black Heritage Day Calendar, the most comprehensive black history calendar ever assembled.
Discussing health issues will be Charles Wilson, community health education specialist with People of Color Against AIDS Network, Seattle.
VIBES will also feature a James Chapmyn production, “Black Man Rising.” It celebrates the accomplishments of African American men and their impact on our society by portraying positive pictures of everyday black men who do not make the headlines.
Participants will take part in a poetry event, the “Spoken Word Jam Session.” New York City hip-hop “politically charged” poet and playwright Jessica Care Moore will follow it with a presentation. She is the first to win five straight weeks during amateur night at New York’s legendary Apollo Theatre.
Housing for participants and chaperones will be at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites in Pullman.
For additional information or to register, contact WSU Conference and Institutes, 800/942-4978 or 509/335-3530.

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