EXCEL impacts Des Moines through Panther Connection
By: Anissa Smith
Since 2015, the Panther Connection has served as an opportunity to strengthen relationships between multicultural alumni and student leaders. With support from corporate sponsors and community professionals, the Panther Connection travels to various locations throughout the Midwest to hold its annual networking event while providing students the opportunity to tour a major metro area business. Stops have included Chicago and St. Louis.
This year’s Panther Connection was held in Des Moines, Iowa and was organized by UNI’s EXCEL student organization, Jonathan Cox, and Panther Connection Committee members, Keniese Evans, Darvel Givens, Juana Hollingsworth, Tydel Jones, Ashley Stewart, and Kathleen Peters.
In preparation for the event, the Committee organized several professional development workshops for UNI students who planned to travel to Des Moines. The workshops helped polish their leadership, networking and conversation skills to prepare them for networking with UNI alumni and Des Moines area professionals.
Professional development workshop presenters included:
- Rasheed Ali Cromwell, Esq, President of The Harbor Institute presented “3 Seeds of Success”
- Keyah Levy, Community Health Coordinator/ Public Relations at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare presented “Teamwork”
- Tyson Greiner, Vice President of Dardis Communications presented “Conversation & Relationship Building Skills”
- Sharina Sallis, Community Relations Specialist at CUNA Mutual Group presented “7 Elements of Professionalism”
- Ras Smith, Representative Elect- Iowa House District 62 presented “Leadership”
- Raquel Zuniga, Retention and Academic Advisor at University of Northern Iowa's College of Education presented "Immigration Laws & Deportations in Iowa"
The two-day Panther Connection event kicked off in Des Moines on April 28. UNI faculty, staff, and student leaders partnered with Gear Up Iowa to lead over 125 Des Moines-area high school students through college readiness sessions and team building exercises. A networking event followed where current UNI students connected with area alumni and Principal recruiters including, Michelle Brannen, Molly Cope Lindsay Moser, and Shebli Spear and CIO, Brain Ness (MIS '91).
On day two, UNI students toured Principal Financial Group headquarters and heard from Principal recruiters on careers, internships and culture within the organization. Area UNI alumni were presented with up-to-date communication on UNI campus climate, planning future Panther Connection programs, and initiatives to re-engage alumni and the UNI community.
UNIBusiness thanks the those who donate to the Dean's Fund for Excellence. Funds raised help pay for student organization competitions, global experiences and professional credential education.