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York Career Services Helps Students Gain Gumbo University Training

For the second consecutive year, a group of York College students were selected as Gumbo University Coalition Scholars, a collaboration with a local business.

*Pictured from left to right are Mark Ogbuehi, Othia Salman, Tamian Tamiann Johnson-Young and Shana Corbett.

The Gumbo Coalition University program is not a university in the traditional sense, but an initiative created by Resorts World Casino New York City in partnership with the Gumbo Coalition, a non-profit organization that aims to empower and support underrepresented communities.

The 2023 program offers a series of workshops and classes focused on leadership, entrepreneurship, and personal development; these are “aimed at helping individuals develop the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in their personal and professional lives. It is “designed for scholars to build confidence, expand their networks, and gain the skills needed to create positive change in their communities.”

Graduating senior, Othia Salman, an Accounting major, is happy with her decision to participate and sings the program’s praises of the experience with the program, located at Resorts World.

“My experience as a Gumbo Coalition scholar was nothing less than inspiring,” she said.  “Each class was a new opportunity to develop my leadership skills and professional goals.  Some of the lessons embedded into the program surrounding the importance of advocacy and community, really resonated with my values and empowered me to stand up for the communities I represent.”

Mark Og, this year's Student Government vice president also had a positive experience.

"Being selected for this esteemed scholarship was a tremendous honor, and the program proved to be highly informative, altering my perspectives on life and situations," said Ogbuehi. "Through the scholarship, I had the opportunity to interact virtually with various speakers and other scholarship recipients from diverse backgrounds, which was exhilarating. It was enlightening to connect with students who shared both similar and distinct interests."

Ogbuehi said that If given another opportunity he would still happily take it. "I would gladly participate in this scholarship program again and would strongly encourage other students to apply as well. This program has the power to transform not only your mindset but also the way you approach and deal with situations," he explained. "A memorable quote from the program that resonated with me was, "Embrace obstacles to build the resilience required to live a purpose-driven life."

The program, Ogbuehi said, "consisted of a total of 24 students, including York's four.

Ms. Salman added, “[It] provides a unique ‘beyond-the-classroom’ experience.  I recognized familiar concepts from my Sociology and Anthropology electives in school, but had the unique opportunity to apply those theoretical concepts to real-world situations.  Moreover, the workshops and seminars exposed me to new ideas and concepts involving personal development methods that I had not previously encountered in my college classes.” 

As she prepares to graduate in June, Salman, who has served as a student senator this year, sees the Gumbo and other experiences having more resonance as she prepares for the workforce.

“Being a Gumbo Coalition Scholar this semester added to my college experience in a meaningful way,” Salman explained.  “As a student leader on campus, I am always on the hunt for activities and experiences that will make me a better leader and ally for the communities I serve.  I leveraged the experiences of community leaders I met through the program to learn how to become a more intentional and impactful leader,” she reflected. “I learned that a leader should have a clear vision for the future and be able to think strategically about how to achieve their goals.  They should be able to develop plans and strategies that are realistic, feasible, and sustainable.  A leader builds relationships, creates partnerships, and brings people together around a common purpose.”

Participants in the Gumbo University program receive a certificate of completion and a $500 scholarship. They are mentored by nationally known civic leaders, including Mark Morial, a former mayor of New Orleans and current president of the National Urban League. He is author of the book, “The Gumbo Coalition University.”

“I would highly recommend other students to participate in the Gumbo Coalition University Program,” said Salman. “[It provides a wealth of opportunities for students to gain practical experience, develop new skills, and network with professionals from various industries.  The mentorship and guidance provided through the program can also help students navigate their academic and career goals more effectively.  Overall, it's an excellent opportunity for students to develop professionally and personally.”

Benjamin Drepaul, associate director of Career Services expressed the offices take on Gumbo.

“From a Career Services perspective, we are delighted to be a part of the process that brings these wonderful opportunities to our students, especially when there is a financial component attached to it for their efforts,” said Drepaul. “We hope to continue our collaborations with Resorts World and our many supporters and employers so that even more students can participate and be allowed to take advantage of the fantastic programs out there.”

Participant Shana Corbett also benefitted from the program. “Gumbo University was an amazing experience, looking at collaboration and teamwork in all matters,” said Corbett.  “I have suggested this book (“The Gumbo University”” to several schools and youth organizations to give them a different perspective on how to handle challenges in their future careers. My major is Business, (and) I would definitely recommend other students to participate next year; it would be extremely beneficial to their characters and careers.”

At the completion of the session, Morial joined the graduates virtually to celebrate their accomplishment and hear from all the semester’s advisors.