St. Paul school connects students with professionals of color

Panelists at 2017 POC Career Panel

Students of color are more likely to pursue careers in fields they can imagine themselves in — especially via other professionals of color. South Saint Paul Secondary’s (SSPS) Black and Latino student organizations are taking that research to heart with their third annual Professionals of Color Career Panel.

SSPS’ Black Pride Organization (BPO) and Communidad De Latinos Unidos (CDLU) have teamed together to connect students and families with a panel of professionals of color from throughout the metro area.

“The POC Career Panel allows students and families to engage in dialogue around the experience of being a person of color within various professional settings, the obstacles that are often encountered by these individuals, and how they have overcome such obstacles to experience success,” said Jessica Davis, SSPS teacher and BPO advisor. “Additionally, this event allows for networking, further enhancing the opportunity for our students of color to access educational and professional opportunities.”

Student leaders from BPO and CDLU will moderate the discussion featuring a diverse panel of speakers, including Robin Hickman, social activist and television and film producer; and Brittany Baker, the second Black female in the St. Paul Fire Department’s history.

“It serves as one of the sole opportunities for our students and families of color within South St. Paul to witness professionals within the surrounding communities from diverse cultures and backgrounds,” said Daniel Knewitz, SSP teacher and BPO assistant advisor. “Last year, the attendance for this event was overwhelming, which validated just how much of a need there is for such a dialogue within our community.”

The organizations will also host a casual dinner and provide youth the opportunity to speak one-on-one with professionals in their fields of interest.

The 3rd annual Professionals of Color Career Panel takes place Thursday, Nov. 15 from 6-8 pm at South Saint Paul Secondary, located at 700 North Second Street in South St. Paul. The event is free and open to the members of the South Saint Paul community.

Information provided by South Saint Paul Secondary. For more information, visit