FCC Commissioner Kicks Off New BSU Series
By Bekah Oester
The new Bowie State University "Distinguished Events Series" began Oct. 26 with a visit from new Federal Communications Commissioner Mignon Clyburn.
Although 13 women and six African Americans have previously held Clyburn's title, Clyburn is the first African-American woman to serve as commissioner of the FCC. In addition to her prestigious title, Clyburn's father is the third most powerful democrat in the U.S.; he serves as the House majority whip.
The event, which took place in the Samuel Myers Auditorium in the Martin Luther King Jr. Communication Arts Center, was the first of four to be held this semester. BSU Provost Roosevelt Newson said that he wanted to create a premier event series for BSU in order to bring a unique combination of "nationally recognized individuals" to the school to educate and promote discussion throughout campus. This year's theme for the first series is the power of the media," making Clyburn an ideal choice to open the inaugural series.
Before Clyburn began, faculty member Karima A. Haynes was recognized for her role in putting the series together and faculty member Dwight Ellis was given the privilege of introducing Clyburn, who then took the stage to deliver her message.
Clyburn said it was a pleasure to take place in this "inaugural season" of the Distinguished Events Series and spoke about her life and background briefly before delivering the message she wanted to get across to students. She mentioned her life of public service, how fortunate students are to be enrolled in higher institutions as she is only a second generation college graduate, the various positions she held including the manager of a local newspaper at her South Carolina home, and how frustrated she felt by the media choosing to cover only the negative aspects of African-American life and ignoring the positives.
The big point of Clyburn's message was finally vocalized: understand the importance of broadband nationwide and to all communities. Clyburn feels that broadband connection is a tool integral to development that has the potential to transform the lives of all its' users. As young adults have a "natural affinity" for technology, BSU students may take broadband for granted, but Clyburn urged them to serve the public by continuing to use and define emerging technologies and to take our knowledge to others as the FCC has discovered that 25 percent of individuals do not regularly use broadband for a variety of reasons including a lack of interest, time, or a feeling that the technology is too difficult to use.
Clyburn emphasized repeatedly the importance of broadband as many things in the future such as financial transactions and job applications transition to becoming online-only. "The power of broadband is truly transformational," she said.
The second point to Clyburn's message encouraged students "to consider the path of communications," because the field directly impacts one-sixth of the nation's economy. She mentioned that currently there is a lack of American workers in the field, so talent is being imported from outside the U.S., which should not be the case.
Clyburn then took time to address questions from students, where she referred to herself as "real," discussing issues ranging from network neutrality to discrimination to obesity from the overuse of technology. A question near the end of the session summed up one of the most important life messages of all: the power of networking for your career. She told students that relationships are important, "don't get so hung up on what your degree is," and "it's about having a good attitude."