MGC HOLDS SYMPOSIUM ON OVERCOMING BARRIERS
(Cochran, GA) – Middle Georgia College recently held a Symposium on Overcoming Barriers to Success, featuring Dr. Deepa Arora, Imad El-Jeaid, Dr. Phillip Gibbs, Crystal Allen-Joyner, and James Roberson. The participants spoke about how they have overcome racial, ethnic and gender barriers in society in order to achieve success.
The Symposium was divided into three parts: the immigrant experience in America, the African- American experience in America, and the white experience in America. It was moderated by Dr. Peter Makaya, the chair of the Division of Social Sciences and Education.
Dr. Deepa Arora, the chair of the Division of Natural Science, Math and Engineering at MGC, and Imad El-Jeaid, an associate professor of physics, astronomy, and computer engineering, spoke about their experiences immigrating to America. Dr. Arora came to America on a student visa in 1989 after getting married. Other than having to get used to the new environment, Dr. Arora said she had no major issues. "If you have plans for the future, you go forward," she said. "If you work hard and want to succeed, you can overcome anything."
El-Jeaid came from Lebanon at 19 years old to attend college in America. He came alone, and he was proud to be part of this community and culture. "It wasn't easy," he said. "I had to seek financial help, but I made it."
Crystal Allen-Joyner, the Multicultural Student Success Advisor, came from a background where her parents stressed the importance of education and learning to function in a diverse environment by going to school and being a minority. "Many barriers have been broken," she said. "If there's something you want, you have to work hard for it and appreciate it."
James Roberson, the chair of the Dublin campus Student Government Association, realized the importance of taking advantage of opportunities after an unsuccessful first semester at MGC. "I messed up and went home, and then I realized how important college is," he said.
Dr. Phillip Gibbs, a professor of history, then talked about the white experience in America, and the assumption of privilege. "People fail to note class or regional differences in the country," he said.
Dr. Gibbs said he had an experience similar to those of the other panelists. He came from an uneducated family who were farmers and wasn't encouraged to go to college. Once he was in college, however, he felt different. "I was insecure in college," he said. "I felt like an alien."
After answering Dr. Makaya's questions, the panelists engaged in a question and answer session with the audience.
Dr. Stephen Svonavec, a science and history professor, said on behalf of the Division of Social Sciences and Education, which sponsored the symposium, that he was pleased about the event. "We had a good turnout, and the students seemed interested," he said.
Dr. Svonavec hopes that students understand that it doesn't matter where they come from, and that as long as they take advantage of opportunities and work hard, they can do anything. "If students left the symposium with the knowledge that they can be successful, and their situations do not discourage them from what they want to do in life, then the symposium was a success," he said.