BE Smart recently sat down with Deanna Hamilton, a vice president at the National Black MBA Association. Concerned about the apathy she’s encountering in some students, we discussed issues in the black community and possible solutions.
Here is an edited version of our conversation.
What is the National Black MBA Association, and what do you do there?
I am vice president of Marketing and Partner Development. We work to ensure the brand equity and integrity of the NBMBAA in the marketplace across all our stakeholders, which includes universities, corporations, individuals, and our members.
We also engage with our universities and corporations to ensure that they have a recruiting presence in our membership: that our universities have access to African American students that can matriculate to graduate studies, and that our corporations are hiring African Americans.
We are a member-based organization that provides intellectual access as well as economic access to our members for job creation and job opportunity within corporate America; from a corporate and university perspective, to provide access to that member base, so corporations and universities can recruit diverse candidates that are prepared to do global business.
What is your organization’s connection to undergrad?
The NBMBAA develops an evergreen pipeline from high school to professional development.
Our high school mentoring program, Leaders of Tomorrow, provides mentoring to high school students to ensure that they matriculate to undergraduate study: 95% do.
At the high school level, you’re encountering some apathy. To what are you attributing that apathy?
Many of us—from baby boomers to Gen X—have “made it,” and we’ve done a mass exodus from the urban community, taking our tax dollars with us, not allowing the schools in those communities to become stellar, and not allowing our kids to get the education they need.
The impact of that on the black community is huge. You have a small subset of black students in urban schools that are doing extremely well, but you have a much larger demographic that is struggling.
The generations behind us are getting left behind because we’ve made this mass exodus, and we’ve decided that it’s now their problem instead of a community problem. The attitude is, “If I don’t live there, I don’t have to deal with it.”
The economic impact of that is decreased funding for schools. The quality of the teacher has everything to do with the pay scale.
In our Leaders of Tomorrow program—we have 45 chapters across the country—we do impact students in these urban areas, teaching them leaderships skills and more. But for every student going into the program there are 25 that don’t have the opportunity.
Read Part 2 of this story here.