Over a meal of Which Wich and water, students can gather around to learn how to become the next generation of successful Tech alumni.
Campus Life’s Lunch with a Leader series hosts members of the Russellville community to casually dine with students and share their experiences in several professional fields.
On Monday, Campus Life partnered with the Diversity and Inclusion to host an African American entrepreneur in recognition of Diversity and Inclusion Week.
“The idea was ‘How can we work across campus to have collaborative programming and events with different parts of the camps, so they can show their support and commitment towards diversity and inclusion?’,” said Dr. MarTeze Hammonds, associate dean for Diversity and Inclusion. “So we were trying to find ways Diversity and Inclusion can be included.”
They found the solution by hosting African American community leaders for their Lunch with a Leader series.
Darrick Nelson, a 1981 Tech alumnus and owner of U-Call Car Wash and Detail, spoke about his experiences as a business owner, and how Tech students today can employ the advice in their own businesses.
“I had always been a car enthusiast,” Nelson said. “My passion grew into something I enjoy.”
That passion has forged a business that’s now more than 25 years old. Nelson said the key to his longevity has been quality work, perseverance and the attitude that one doesn’t “jump into something you can’t complete yourself.”
“You have to find an area you can do a service and make a living [in],” Nelson said.
For Nelson, that area was vehicle detail work. But prior to opening his business, Nelson invested 30-plus years into the local education system, starting out teaching special education and eventually teaching and coaching full time.
“I had to figure out what was important,” Nelson said.
He went on to say he found that importance in spending time with his family; it was then teaching and coaching full time lost their place as Nelson’s focus. However, Nelson took what he learned as an educator and applied it to his present-day business.
“It made me well rounded in working with different people in different areas,” Nelson said.
Those different areas now encompass the diversity seen on Tech’s campus today.
“After 34 years, it’s a great opportunity to see the diversity that has changed over the years from when I came in, to what I see now,” Nelson said. “We didn’t know what to expect after we finished high school. Now they have people coming in and sharing the diversity and different cultures, and I think that’s a great opportunity.”
Those opportunities to share in diversity and different cultures continue as Tech’s Diversity and Inclusion continues to grow.
For future events hosted by Diversity and Inclusion, visit its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ATUDiversity.