Last week, the CSI Small Business Development Center (SBDC) hosted a gathering of African American entrepreneurs and students, as well as SBDC team members, in celebration of Black History Month, in collaboration with the CSI Black Student Union (BSU).

The event featured a relaxed structure with guests Dean Marlin from New York Life Insurance Company, and Genesis Gonzalez from Renu Wellness Club, offering advice to the students in attendance. Dr. Paul Archibald, Professor in the Department of Social Work, and Faculty Advisor to the BSU, was also on hand.

Marlin encouraged the students to continue their education, underscoring his four components of success: plan, goal, deadline, and willpower. In addition, he stressed the importance of partnerships to reach markets and achieve goals. Gonzalez agreed with Marlin on the importance of collaboration and stressed the importance of passion to achieve goals.

Marlin went around the room, asking students to introduce themselves, discuss their majors, and explain if they had any business goals, after CSI. Most of them did.

SBDC Director Dean Balsamini provided a brief history of Black History Month and explained to the students the services that the SBDC provides to help them attain their dreams.

Near the end of the event, Dr. Archibald pointed to Black Wall Street in Tulsa, OK, a flourishing business district in the early 20th Century that was attacked and destroyed in 1921 by a mob of whites in what came to be known as the Tulsa Race Massacre. He urged the students in attendance to learn more about the massacre, but also to use Black Wall Street as inspiration and an example that black students can succeed in business.

After the event, Balsamini stated that “I am exceptionally pleased with the open forum yesterday in honor of Black History Month. The goal of the Small Business Development Center was to introduce our team to the students and the opportunities that may be available. The students were very engaged, and several were interested in learning more about starting their own businesses in the future.” For more information on the assistance that the CSI SBDC can provide to budding student entrepreneurs, call 718.982.2560 or visit their Website at .

Photo caption: From Left, BSU President Jericee Mitchell; Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Work at CSI, Dr. Paul Archibald/BSU Mentor; SBDC Regional Director Dean Balsamini; Guest Speaker Dean Marlin of New York Life Insurance Company; and BSU Vice President Jamel Reynolds. Photo by Debra Denmark.

By Terry Mares