Thirteenth Annual Youth Empowerment Summit

YEC Photo
By Beaunea McNeil, 
Unite Contributing Writer

Springfield, MO—Teenagers filled Plaster Student Union on Oct. 2 as the 13th annual Youth Empowerment Summit took place.

Over 350 students attended the summit, which focused primarily on providing resources for teenage African American students living in the area. The summit lasted nearly six hours.

Sponsored by six organizations, including the Springfield chapter of the NAACP, this year’s theme was “Turn Up For What?,” a theme dedicated to encouraging students to be ambitious in their dreams.

“It’s been a growing program,” said Juan Meraz, Assistant Vice President for Multicultural Services at Missouri State University. “It’s really much more focused on their success. Whether they go to college or not, we have workshops on careers and opportunities that students might not look at traditionally.”

Each workshop lasted 50 minutes.

While providing the students with resources, the program also presented the students with a motivational speaker, Brian Heat.

Heat, a speaker dedicated to helping people discover their purpose, spoke for over an hour. Not afraid of speaking the dreams of others into existence, Heat has spoken to the lives of thousands, using his own power of words to affect others.

“I don’t do this because of the money,” Heat said, ending his presentation. “I do this because I like to see the eyes in the crowd that light up when I say something that makes sense to you.”

All five Springfield schools attended the summit, in addition to Willard.