Tuesday, November 5, 2013

JCSU students get audience with Federal Reserve

A small group of Johnson C. Smith University students talked education, the power of persistence and what it takes to succeed in today's economy with officers from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond over breakfast Tuesday morning. 

The four students are part of Innovo Laboratory, a nonprofit run through JCSU, a historically black university designed to guide the city's next generation of entrepreneurs. Students who are a part of Innovo Lab meet with business leaders and entrepreneurs, get training on writing a business plan, have webcam discussions with students in other countries and hear lectures from the area's top leaders. 

And though the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond President Jeffrey Lacker spoke briefly, these students did most of the talking -- and impressing. 

The goal is to "help young adults understand the possibilities out there," Lacker said, hours before he gave a speech on workforce development to area business leaders at the Fed's Charlotte branch. 

And many of those possibilities are going to be in new areas. There may be fewer jobs for manual laborers in manufacturing, but there are emerging jobs for people skilled enough to operate the computerized technology, he said. 

Communications major Dineo Seakamela, 21, is from Johannesburg, South Africa, and left her home for the first time in 2010 to study at JCSU. She says her experience at the university has equipped her to spread her wings even more -- possibly to other areas of the U.S., Europe or to Asia.

 "When you look in history, a lot of the upheavals were student-based," Seakamela said. "We have a voice and mind and power in unity."

Lacker praised the students' ambition and desire to get a bachelor's degree. He said people who graduate from college make, over a lifetime, 80 percent than people who have only a high school degree. People who complete just a couple of years of college make 15 percent more, he said.

"The societies that succeed and grow unlock more potential from young people," Lacker said.