History of the Snohomish County Students of Color Career Conference
The Students of Color Career Conference (SOCCC) is the creative concept of Bill Reed, Accounting Faculty at Everett Community College. Bill's idea for creating a career conference for students of color stemmed from data on local demographic trends (the population of People of Color in Snohomish County is increasing rapidly and the majority of this growth is under the age of 18), education trends (low retention and graduation rates of students of color and the fact that students of color are less likely to make the transition from high school to college), and the economic impact of education (higher education means lower poverty rates and greater economic stability). Based on this information, the ideal goal of a career conference is to motivate and empower middle and high school students of color to pursue higher education in order to provide more and better career options.
Bill presented his idea for a career conference to the college leadership and the Community Diversity Advisory Committee. Charlie Earl, President of EvCC at that time, embraced the idea and provided leadership and full support to implement the conference. Carlos Veliz, President/CEO of PCSI Design and member of the advisory committee, enthusiastically offered to co-chair the conference committee with Bill Reed. Almost immediately, staff in the Diversity & Equity Center became actively involved in planning and coordinating the conference.
The first Snohomish County Students of Color conference took place in January 2003, and this year marks the tenth annual career conference. The conference agenda includes an inspirational and motivational keynote speaker, career panels led by local professionals of color, financial aid and college admissions information, college, university and military representatives, scholarships, food, door-prizes and entertainment.
Students of color benefit from the conference in a variety of ways; students are:
- Motivated and encouraged to graduate from high school and continue on to higher education.
- Provided the opportunity to learn about various career options and are challenged to dream big.
- Encouraged to build positive relationships with mentors.
- Exposed to professionals of color as role-models.
- Given the opportunity to learn about college options, financial aid, and scholarships.
The success of this one-of-a-kind conference for middle and high school students of color in Snohomish County includes:
- Increased student participation (from 50 in 2003 to 1,000+ in 2011).
- Increased collaboration with school districts. The Everett Public Schools joined as a conference co-sponsor in 2006.
- Increased support from local city, county government and businesses. The City of Everett, Snohomish County Government, Microsoft Corporation, and Boeing have become active supporters of this conference.
- Increased community awareness and participation.
Today, the Snohomish County Students of Color Career Conference is an integral part of the institutional diversity fabric of Everett Community College.