Clark Atlanta University junior Destine Gooden joined us as a first-timer at our Feb. 16 Transform Westside Summit. Read below the native New Yorker’s first impression of the Summit and the advice she has now for her Atlanta University Center peers.
“A Seat at the Table”
by Destine Gooden
Originally entering as just a meer bystander, peeking in on the experience, I thought to myself, “Maybe I’ll sit towards the back to make room for the important people. Better yet, I’ll sit in the middle just to easily blend in.”
Making my way to an available seat, I found myself sitting right next to the cameraman, ironically. John Ahmann, executive director of the Westside Future Fund, made his way to the front to open up the meeting with a testimonial by Rodney Bullard. It was there after the testimonial where I experienced something that I would have never thought would have taken place in such a professional setting. Ahmann first re-introduced himself, then handed the mic off to the first person, in the first row to introduce themselves.
As we went up and down each row, I listened intently to each person and their role. With a moment of doubt, I thought to myself, “What role do I play that would even match up to the people I am surrounded by?” It was right there where I realized my unique role – my strength. So I courageously stood up.
“Good morning everyone, my name is Destine Gooden and I am an undergraduate student at Clark Atlanta University.” I mean what else could I say…I’m only a student. Not even realizing my role as a student is exactly what I bring to the table. The Atlanta University Center is my community, which plays a role in the build-up of the Westside.
The diversity in the room was inspiring. It was a pleasure to see individuals of all races and ethnicities with all roles, no matter how big or small.
My takeaway was to never undermine your role when it comes to serving others. For we are all one community and everyone is just as valuable to bring something to the table.
“Find what you bring to the table and pull up a chair!”
Destine is a public relations major in Clark Atlanta’s department of mass media arts.