From left are Dr. Wandra Arrington, MEW Honors Director, Eduardo Villavicenio Vicaino, keynote speaker; Tyarian Carson, Erykah Cain, Kyla Luckett, Avantavis Carter, Trinity Wilson, Mike Lambert, Ezra Snell II, Niyah Parnell, Tionda Yarbrough, Carlyn Keyton, Brittney Taplin, Nini Munoz, and Joy Saucier, Mississippi Power

Alcorn students participated in the Mississippi Power UPLIFT Leadership Program, hosted by Alcorn State University and funded by Mississippi Power.

Throughout the program, the student participants met in small groups with mentors to discuss topics such as establishing effective relationships, self-discovery, presentation skills, business acumen, personal branding, and effective networking.

“Through the UPLIFT Leadership program, our students have the opportunity to network with professionals and fellow university/college students while also enhancing their leadership skills through activities,” said Dr. Wandra Arrington, director of the Myrlie Evers-Williams Honors Program, who welcomed the student group to Alcorn’s campus.

The UPLIFT Program began on January 4, a semester-long program for students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in Mississippi. The participants were chosen by their schools. Further, UPLIFT workshops will be held on February 13, March 19, and April 9, coinciding with the 2024 graduation. Attendance at five sessions is required for students to graduate. Other HBCUs in Mississippi that participate alongside Alcorn include Jackson State University, Tougaloo College, and Mississippi Valley State University, all of which will rotate the sessions between the campuses. Aside from transportation costs, Mississippi Power takes care of all other expenses involved in the program.

Six Alcorn students were chosen to represent the university in the UPLIFT program: Avantavis Carter, an elementary education major from Hazlehurst, Miss.; Carlyn Keyton, a chemistry major from Madison, Miss.; Tyarian Carson, a communications major from Canton, Miss.; Trinity Wilson, a psychology major, Hattiesburg, Miss.; Mckyla Luckett, an elementary education major from Lena, Miss.; and Taniyah Parnell, a biology/pre-nursing major from Greenville, Miss.

“When I first read about the UPLIFT program, I instantly felt it was a great opportunity for me because it symbolized the importance of leadership, and leadership is what I’m all about,” said student Tyarian Carson.

Carson found what she hoped for at the UPLIFT program workshop organized by Ms. Joy Saucier of Mississippi Power, who also spoke there.

“I met some amazing individuals who see themselves in the same way I see myself: as leaders who want to make a difference in the world or want to help influence others in a positive way,” Carson said. “Applying for this leadership program was just another way to put my name out into the world and try new things, but I never imagined I would learn so much about myself through others. The program is designed to help students like me understand who they truly are from a series of test-taking, surveys, and real-life experiences. This program has helped me become a better leader and person going forward.”

Eduardo Villavicenio Vicaino, trained in the Clifton Strengths method of conflict resolution, served as a workshop facilitator and another keynote speaker.

Vicaino said, “He saw great potential in the Alcorn students who participated in the UPLIFT program.”

Trinity Wilson used her leadership talents to develop ideas to help her fellow students solve personal conflicts. Also, Vicaino stated, “Some students talked about, say, student government and how some people do more work than others, and then we brainstormed how to not see that situation as conflict, but rather, as a simple disagreement. Several students role played similar scenarios for the other students to consider.”

Vicaino added, “Several students came up to me after the workshop and said, “I see how we can apply this to real life, not just to the future corporate world one day.”