In Hempstead on Saturday, teenage boys from across Long Island were able to discover career paths, listen to athletic and business keynote speakers and learn skills that would prepare them for the adult world.
Roughly 400 teens attended Hofstra University for the seventh annual BoyzN2Men Conference, hosted by Freeport-based nonprofit The Cedarmore Corporation.
Frank A. White, CEO for Cedarmore, said the conference’s goal was to not only empower minority youth in underprivileged areas, but also to show them they can aspire to achieve great things in life.
“We believe that these young men must see beyond their current present circumstances, and it is our desire and our passion…to reach out and help them,” White said.
The young men attended panels covering topics including financial literacy, college preparedness, personal branding, and developing healthy relationships. The conference also featured a career expo where teens could discuss careers with employees in fields ranging from STEM fields to law enforcement, health care and more.
R.J. Meyers-Turner, 17, of Uniondale, said he particularly enjoyed a panel on how students should prepare themselves to play sports in either the college or professional levels.
“I’m just staying focused and listening to what they’re saying because everything they say is going to help me better off in life,” said Meyers-Turner, a senior at Uniondale High School who will attend SUNY New Paltz this fall and plans to study business while playing football.
Alexander Plaisio, 19, of Huntington Station, said he first came to the conference as a freshman at Walt Whitman High School and realized over time what he learned there he could apply in the real world. Plaisio said he got the most out of the panels and keynote speakers.
This year’s speakers included Richard Salgado, a New Hyde Park native and CEO of Coastal Advisors LLC, as well as FOX Sports Super Bowl commentator Donny Brady, a Bellmore native and former NFL cornerback who owns Lynbrook-based Proficient Sports Training.
“To see other individuals that look like me all become successful, you say, ‘They’ve done it, so I can do it, too,’ ” said Plaisio, who is now studying at SUNY Old Westbury.
This year marked the first time organizers held the conference without BoyzN2Men founder Cynthia Perkins-Roberts, who died January 1 after a long battle with cancer. Jeffery Roberts, her husband, said his wife would be proud of what the conference had done for local teens.
“If we can touch one life, then it’s worth it all. That was part of Cynthia’s legacy, and that’s her legacy now,” Roberts said.