Women of Color Summit to be held in Colvard Union

STARKVILLE, Miss.–Mississippi State administrators, faculty and staff members and students will come together Feb. 8 to explore and discuss the issues impacting women of color.

The free event also is open to all interested persons beyond campus. Registration begins at 8 a.m. in the Colvard Student Union’s Foster Ballroom, with the program getting under way an hour later.

“We are taking a proactive approach to address, discuss and develop innovative methods to meet the needs of our students,” said Tommy Stevenson, the university’s chief diversity officer. More than 300 already have registered, he added.

“It is our hope that attendees not only leave with valuable knowledge, but are empowered to use the information to achieve their goals and aspirations,” the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity Programs director said.

MSU alumna Sharon Y. Eubanks of McLean, Va., will deliver the keynote address at 11:30 a.m. She is a 1976 political science graduate who went on to receive a law degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Also speaking will be Prentiss native Felecia M. Nave, now associate provost and associate vice president at Prairie View (Texas) A&M University. Her 9:30 a.m. presentation is titled “Data Trends: Women of Color.”

An attorney now in private practice, Eubanks was lead U.S. Justice Department counsel in U.S. vs. Philip Morris USA, et al., the federal tobacco litigation that forced major tobacco companies to change the way they do business, particularly in marketing and advertising.

Eubanks recently completed a book on the litigation effort. Titled “Bad Acts,” it was published last year by American Public Health Association.

Eubanks is a member of the board of directors of the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation. She also serves on the advisory committee for the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco.

On the day prior to her Women of Color Summit address, Eubanks will accept the MSU Pre-Law Society’s 2013 Distinguished Jurist Award. The honor is presented annually by the student organization and the political science and public administration department.

Nave is an Alcorn State University chemistry graduate who went on to receive master’s and doctoral degrees in chemical and environmental engineering at the University of Toledo, Ohio.

In her current role at Prairie View, Nave has researched issues affecting the recruitment, retention and persistence of African-American and women students in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines. She also has examined issues that impact the professional development, advancement and persistence of women faculty and students in engineering.

Heavily involved in K-12 outreach, she has served as the summer programs coordinator for the Roy G. Perry College of Engineering and other related programs at Prairie View. She also is a much-sought speaker for events encouraging K-12 students to pursue STEM careers after college.

Other speakers during the day will include MSU President Mark E. Keenum and Jerry Gilbert, provost and executive vice president. Joining them will be Camille Scales Young of Madison, current MSU Alumni Association National President and the first African American to hold the organization’s top post.

A pre-summit program, also free and open to all, takes place 6-7:30 p.m. on the 7th in the union’s Dawghouse lounge. Nakeitra L. Burse will lead an interactive discussion on health disparities, network and relationship building and the importance of preparation.

Burse is prevention program manager with the Jackson office of My Brother’s Keeper, Inc., a national non-profit Christian ministry.

Stevenson said, “Most importantly, we hope each person who attends feels relaxed, excited and comfortable talking about issues affecting women of color.”

To register for the upcoming Women of Color Summit or to learn more, visit www.odep.msstate.edu.