SDES Students Participate in Distinguished International Conference in Ireland

October 30th, 2018


Student Diversity, Engagement and Success (SDES) sent four accomplished and motivated SDES undergraduate students to the International Colloquium on Black Males in Education (ICBME) in Dublin, Ireland this past week. The four SDES students, Natara Boatman, Shante Fossie, Deonte Iverson, and Devante Simmons presented their research and listened to some established and renowned speakers at the colloquium, as well as attended a Graduate School Academy led by Dr. LaVar Charleston, Assistant Vice Chancellor of SDES. Dr. Kenny Yarbrough, Chief Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer at UW-W provided the keynote address at the academy.

Elite students from all over the world attended the Graduate School Academy at ICBME. Deonte Iverson, SDES McNair student, spoke of his experience at the academy: “The biggest component that I learned was not only the importance of networking, but how central it is to your graduate school application. That’s not explicitly stated by anyone, but it’s apparent as a factor after listening to the panel. Getting to know the faculty, understanding their research and being able to talk about their research is vital to getting into those graduate programs.”

The four SDES students shared their research in the form of poster presentations during the colloquium. Many people hovered around their posters, asking questions and admiring the hard work and research SDES students put into their projects. It also gave the students another opportunity to meet and interact with established professionals from around the world.

 “I am very excited for our students and how they performed. This gave them an opportunity to not only showcase their work, but also interact with renowned faculty, as well as other students from across the globe. This opportunity provided a socialization experience very difficult to replicate at many US colleges and universities as many of the renowned faculty present had backgrounds similar to the students,” said Dr. Charleston, Assistant Vice Chancellor of SDES.

When asked about her experience at the colloquium, Natara Boatman, SDES King Chávez scholar, said, “I loved getting to experience what life is like in Ireland. It was very educational, especially to see African Americans come together to speak on issues within our community.”

Devante Simmons, senior SDES McNair Scholar, spoke of a powerful aspect of the colloquium: defying labels and stereotypes. “To see African Americans just, you know, not perpetuating all of the negative stereotypes surrounding African Americans, showing the other side, the side that doesn’t get any notoriety or coverage. And all of us in one room, people with their doctorates, people with their masters, and us, still in the process of getting our bachelor’s degrees, just to see us all in one room together working towards a better cause. It was special.”

Shante Fossie, a senior McNair scholar, said that her favorite speaker was Shane O’Curry. Shane O’Curry is the National Platform Coordinator of the European Network Against Racism. He spoke on “A Prologue of Blackness in Ireland” and the discrimination that Irish citizens had to overcome throughout the decades, an issue that still has lingering effects today. “It made me realize the real history of Ireland. Because at first I was questioning why we were in Ireland. Specifically, what does this colloquium have to do with Ireland. But it showed me that there is correlation between the Irish and African Americans as well,” said Shante.

The colloquium concluded with a banquet dinner, where Warrior Spirit Awards were presented to four outstanding people. The awards were introduced by Major General Marcia Andersen, the first African-American woman to become a major general in the United States Army. Wei LAB Director and co-founder of ICBME, Dr. Jerlando F. L. Jackson said, “7 years ago, what we wanted to do with this event was to also acknowledge those warriors who have been fighting for decades on behalf of black males, that have probably never been told thank you. We wanted to honor them and archive them along with the work that we plan to do for a very long time.”

The chance to attend this distinguished colloquium was not lost on UW-Whitewater’s SDES students. Deonte Iverson, senior SDES McNair scholar, noted that it was a unique opportunity and said, “I’m very thankful for this trip because it allowed us to see what we can be, and what we aspire to be, and give us examples to look towards, and people to contact if we have questions.”

Shante added, “Overall, I think it was a great trip. It was very insightful. I learned a lot about Ireland, and about us. It was good that it was black people doing excellent things in the professional world. That’s one of the things I thought was great, because in the news you see us in a stereotypical way but seeing all of the professional people at this conference was amazing. I aspire to be like them one day.”

SDES wants to thank Devonte, Natara, Shante and Deonte for their hard work and for representing UW-Whitewater at the colloquium.

To view more photos from that week, “Like us” on Facebook by visiting our Facebook page at

Written by Kayla Daum

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