Men 12 to 50-plus attended the 5th Annual Keys to Manhood – A Seminar for Men at the St. Petersburg College Allstate Center on Saturday, Feb. 11.
The seminar is an inspiring program to prepare men to go from college to successful career.
This year’s event featured breakout sessions on overcoming legal obstacles, athletics as a road to college, a financial literacy clinic, the inspiring story of SPC student Ernest Gant and a career workshop. The event was sponsored by TransAmerica and GTE Financial. Professional football player and noted philanthropist Louis Murphy Jr. provided the keynote address.
During his speech, Murphy touched on many of the challenges in his own life.
In high school, he ranked 32nd among wide receivers, and the coach told Murphy that he would never play. That prompted Murphy to try harder. He looked for football camps and sent out letters and highlight tapes of his plays. He cut yards to pay for college application fees. He talked about the shame of losing his scholarship and the challenge of working his way through college and holding down a job.
“No matter where you are in life, don’t let anyone or anything deter you from your dreams,” Murphy said.
There has never been a more important time to support young men and help them achieve their dreams.
Since 1995, the rate at which men are graduating college is in decline. Men’s participation in the labor force and in the professions are also in decline. According to a 2016 study by the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, “prime-age male labor force participation has been falling for more than a century,” and that “men between the ages of 25 and 54 are increasingly disconnected from the labor market.” As low-wage, low-skill jobs disappear to automation and baby boomers move into the retirement, the decline could become a crash. Unemployed men are more likely to suffer from poverty, adverse health and legal difficulties. In contrast, the unemployment rate for college graduates is less than half that of those with only a high school diploma. They will make an average of twice as much in their first weekly check and are more likely to be in a career track job. A strong, supportive community of mentors and peers is key to male academic and professional success.
The connections made at this year’s Keys to Manhood pave the way for a better life. Thanks to the members of Men Achieving Excellence club, college staff and the community, young men who attended Saturday’s event get a chance to start out on the right foot.