Starting your college career can be the scariest and most exciting time of your life.
“We live in an environment where so many people are acquiring debt to get an education but unfortunately, many of them, especially the community of color, are not transitioning into a job that allows them to repay their debt that they got in school,” said Zach Rinkins, South Florida author of “I Am College Material.”
Rinkins, along with EcoTech Visions Foundation, on Dec. 21 hosted “I Am College Material Community Conversation on College and Careers” in Miami Gardens.
Many students across the country face a dilemma when deciding on where to attend college. “So, I thought it was very important to have this conversation to equip the community with tools to not only help them navigate the college experience, but to also help them maximize the opportunity and minimize the debt while attending college,” Rinkins said.
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Rinkins, who researched his book by speaking with college education experts, said that with careful planning and help from his family, he was able to avoid most of the hardships other students endure when taking out loans for school.
“From a personal perspective, I was grateful to have parents that were able to help me,” he said. “I did acquire a few loans, a little bit more than my mom might have wanted me to, but it was not out of the realm of the salaries I was able to get because of networking. I would say this: I thank my mom Denise Rinkins and Michel Whitehead. I thank them for just supporting me and getting me through college.”
Rinkins majored in journalism at Florida A&M University and won a Florida Associated Press Broadcasters 2007 College Award.
“When I graduated, there were some challenges in getting well-paying jobs in the journalism sector, so I had to transition from doing journalism, freelance, to getting jobs in communications,” Rinkins said.
“Zach Rinkins’ book reminds us all that [while] college is still the access to upper mobility … students must pick focus areas that have high growth potential, such as STEM and Tech. And remember to network, network, network every chance you get,“ said Pandwe Gibson, Ph.D., executive director of EcoTech Visions Foundation, which, according to its website, “provides training programs that focus on converting workers and businesses from blue-collar to ‘green-collar’ through Solar, Technology and a variety of other curriculums.”
DeCarlo Thompson, a community empowerment specialist with Positive Creations, a Miami Gardens motivational group, said Rinkins’ college conversation is “just what our community needs.”
“I look at some of my friends who graduated from college and sometimes they seem worse off than my friends who didn’t go to college,” Thompson said. “This information helps give me confidence to do the right and positive things for myself and my education.”