For more than 15 years, Stony Brook University’s Diversity Professional Leadership Network (DPLN) has given Black and LatinX students a place to turn to for career mentorship. Kimberly Joy Dixon, director of Employer Relations and Diversity Recruitment at the Career Center, and her team spend time matching students with mentors that are out in the field, allowing students to learn what it takes to achieve their goals. But, it turns out to be so much more, as past DPLN members have realized.
Ebony Kerr-Percy, who graduated from Stony Brook in 2009, explained that she joined the group as a way to partner with mentors that she could learn and grow from professionally, but ended up making a friend for life.
Kerr-Percy was matched with Raymond Rose, who was looking for an opportunity to give back to Stony Brook University as well as the community. The two quickly bonded, as Rose stepped up to help Kerr-Percy jump into interview and career prep.
“Not only did I learn interview skills, networking skills, and tips for navigating the corporate world, I was even able to learn about my 401k and home ownership from my mentors over the years and some of us are still in touch today,” she said.
However, it wasn’t just Rose who was sharing his expertise; Kerr-Percy was able to teach him a thing or two as well.
“I learned about the new interpersonal and technological skills from this program that I was able to apply in my professional life,” said Rose, while Kerr-Percy says her biggest takeaway was all of the preparation Rose was able to provide her with.
“I learned about internships and how to prepare for them. I am a better career professional because of DPLN,” she said.
Kerr-Percy and Rose are still in touch, and both note that they speak frequently about various things, like an impasse in a career or advice on work situations. But Kerr-Percy notes that the relationship has gone beyond work and into life advice.
“[Rose] has helped me personally during my various moves or even helped answer home ownership questions,” she said.
For Kerr-Percy, joining DPLN is something she would do again if given the opportunity and urges others to just jump in with both feet. “It is worth the time and effort and is especially beneficial to help you navigate corporate America and the upcoming work environment. If you are lucky, you will build an amazing connection like me and still be in touch with your mentor or the participants of the program many many years later,” she said.
Rose, too, explains that the DPLN program has helped him grow as a career professional and mentor and it is something that will only help students succeed once they leave University life.
“This program is important because it gives students who do not have access to certain resources, the ability to learn and grow with the guidance of professionals such as myself,” he said.
— Emily Cappiello