National Black Grads Co-Founder Keynasia Buffong and Cooperative Economic Empowerment Movement (CEEM) Founder Reggie Webb
By Manny Otiko | IVN
High school graduates from the Inland Empire recently held a celebration ceremony at the Los Angeles County Fair. According to organizers Kaynasia and Jonathan Buffong of National Black Grads, the event was both celebratory and educational.
Students were honored and celebrated for graduating from high school. Several scholarship recipients were recognized. The event also included some fun activities, such as a rap battle contest and a fashion show. Kaynasia Buffong said that the fashion show also served as a great educational and networking event. The fashion show featured three designers, and students participated as models, she said.
Jonathan Buffong thanked Joseph “J Pash” Patrick, founder of the Passion Net Productions, and Lawrence Hardy for providing the entertainment and organizing the event.
Keyneisha Buffong said that one of the students, who is interested in a career in fashion, was able to network with one of the designers.
Graduating high school students were also able to make some professional connections with business and education leaders, such as Dr. Judy White, former Riverside County superintendent. According to Kaynasia Buffong, White shared her 40 years of educational experience with the students.
The grads also interacted with Reggie Webb, an entrepreneur who owns a chain of McDonalds’ franchises. Webb also founded Cooperative Economic Empowerment Movement (CEEM.)
Jonathan Buffong said it was important for young people to see these examples of Black excellence.
Keyneisha Buffong said that it was important for students to reach out and network with these kinds of professionals.
“It was a beautiful collaboration,’ she said, “It encourages students to make the connection to see what they need to do to succeed.”
“It helps students connect the dots,” she added. “They (White and Webb) both carry a wonderful message.”
Jonathan Buffong said that an important part of Black Grad Night was connecting with other graduating high school students, who they may meet at their future educational institutions.
He added that these connections may be people who can serve as support networks when students make their transition to college.
The Buffongs are already at work setting up conferences and planning for next year’s event. It’s a labor of love, but they keep at it because they recognize the importance of their work.
Keyneisha Buffong said it was important to reach back to young people and help them succeed.
“This is important for the future of the Black community,” she said.
Jonathan Buffong added that he is a child of immigrants and his parents received a lot of support from the Black community when they were trying to make it. That’s why he gives back, he said.
According to Kaynasia Buffong, future events include a College Connection Cookout, planned for July, and a workshop at Rialto schools to help students prepare for their senior year.