In today's economic climate it takes more than a strong academic record for college graduates to get that first good job or to be accepted into a graduate program of their choice. They must have leadership and tangible work experience, preferably in the field of their choice. Internships are an excellent avenue for attaining that experience.
Problems arise, however, when students must also support themselves while they are attending college, because most internships are non-paying positions. Students are then forced to decide whether to take a non-paying summer internship position or take a paying summer job outside their field in order to earn and save money for the upcoming year.
In May 1993, State Sen. Royce West established a program to alleviate that conundrum for the students living in Senatorial District 23. In partnership with Paul Quinn College and the Texas Veterans Land Board, Sen. West's Economic Development Advisory Committee established an internship subcommittee that worked with businesses and corporations in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex to find paying internships for college students. In the first iteration of the program, 27 college students were paid for their participation in summer internships.
The program was officially renamed and dedicated the Dr. Emmett J. Conrad Leadership Program on Aug. 11, 1993, in honor of the renowned Dallas African-American physician, civic leader and education activist. Seventeen years later the internship program is still going strong.
For the past 12 years Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry has hosted an evening of speakers for the leadership program students. This year on July 14, approximately 50 Conrad scholars attended the event in the Richard E. Bradley Continuing Education Center on the college's sixth floor. They learned about the processes related to preparation for, admission and successful matriculation into professional or graduate school.
Under the direction of Dr. Claude Williams, director of community outreach, students heard from an impressive panel of speakers. Dr. Ernestine Lacy, director of student development and associate professor of restorative sciences, represented HSC-Baylor College of Dentistry. Representatives were present from Southern Methodist University, Dallas Baptist University, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, University of North Texas System, University of North Texas at Dallas, The University of Texas at Arlington, Texas Wesleyan University, Howard University School of Law and Texas A&M University -Commerce.
"Your hosting of the event once again allowed for the presentation of honest and to-the-point dialogue about the process, the true cost and the competition associated with graduate and professional schools. The students' eyes have been opened and they now know what they must do as it relates to success at the graduate/professional level," wrote Sen. West in a letter of thanks to Williams.