Speaker urges students to find their story

By Maria Hockaday
Contributing Writer

Residence Life and Housing sponsored keynote speaker Dr. Lawrence Mc- Neill Dowdy as he presented "Your Story Matters" on Feb. 22 in the UC Annex to celebrate Black History month. 

Over 100 students and guests came out to hear Community Liaison Dr. Dowdy of the NC Office of the Governor. 

Though it was open to the public, many students were also given special invitations that qualified them for a raffle to win a $50 Visa gift card.Though it was open to the public, many students were also given special invitations that qualified them for a raffle to win a $50 Visa gift card. 

Resident advisers issued the invitations that encouraged student participation at the event. 

The evening began with a welcome speech by Associate Director of Residence Life Cynthia Redfearn expressing her excitement over the diversity of the living and learning programs offered through Residence Life. Students and professors representing historically black fraternities on campus conducted an opening question and answer forum. 

"Education is key to black students," said Kappa Alpha Psi representative Wayne Brown in response to a question stating that merely 26 percent of black men graduate high school. 

This student's opinion set the stage for Dr. Dowdy's presentation "Your Story Matters," in which the Pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Proctorville encouraged students of higher education to learn more about their family's history. 

"Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Eminem… these are celebrities this generation knows more about than their grandparents— those with whom they share a DNA. It is time to put your cell phone, video recorder, and computer to use in a new way; sit down with your grandfather and ask him to tell you his story as you record his answers. Post that on YouTube and watch the ratings soar," Dr. Dowdy said. 

As the university celebrated black history on campus during February, Dr. Dowdy urged students to understand the important role they hold in continuing the history of America. 

He reminded the audience that we are all free to attend such a diverse campus because of the hard work and determination of previous generations who fought for our rights and led the way for our benefit. 

"Barack and Michelle Obama have company in you students—they are not alone in overcoming struggles. Your story matters. Write it. Tell it. Share it. Consider your story and make it more," said Dr. Dowdy as he looked out to an audience filled with students, educators and even family. 

Dr. Dowdy's three sisters traveled to Pembroke to support his speech. 

His youngest sister, Olivia Delois Dowdy Brown, graduated from UNCP in 2000 specializing in visual arts. 

"We are all very proud of our brother. He is a powerful speaker and always has a great message," Brown said. 

Dr. Dowdy has served in the ministry for more than 28 years, he is the Vice Moderator for the Lumber River Baptist Association and in 2010 he was appointed by the office of Gov. Beverly Perdue to serve as the faith-based Outreach Coordinator for the state.