The University of Minnesota Crookston welcomed Bernard Franklin, Ph.D, assistant to the vice president at Kansas State University and president of Junior Achievement Mid-America, to their Thursday Commons Luncheon. He was enthusiastically introduced by the Diversity and Multicultural Programs Director Lorna Hollowell.
Before the presentation she sang Franklin's praises. Hollowell had first heard of him when he spoke in St. Cloud and was later seen at Moorhead State University during Black History Month. She described him as, "engaging, motivating, and inspiring." Hollowell thought the beginning of the school year was the best time for Franklin to be here because it will bring "passion to the students and educators."
Franklin, who is known for being the first African American president of the Student Government Association, first spoke of his childhood and how his grandpa Frank gave him a sense of self-worth when he said, "you are far too gifted and you will go somewhere." As a young person growing up, he said, there comes a time when we might feel worthless. Franklin knew this firsthand, attending college in a predominantly Caucasian campus. His message is to remain confident and "take advantage of opportunities that come your way." He wants all people to utilize their skills in life and "keep with the changes."
He spoke about his life in Kansas and how technology has been one of the most important changes in this world. Franklin joked that Crookston's campus was about "100 times slower" for Internet speed compared to what he is used to, but that might be because the rest of the country is trying to catch up. He feels that there is a "digital divide" within the United States and we are in danger of "leaving the rural and poor communities behind." Franklin believes that Internet service should now be thought of as a right and utility, much like water and electricity.
Franklin then segued into Junior Achievement and how important it was to challenge students and hold a higher standard. He walked over to the table full of students involved in the Crookston Student Association and pointed out that, "there's not one student in here or on campus that can't have a 3.0 or higher GPA. You need to have confidence in yourself and push the limits." Franklin said, gesturing to the educators, "We need to start developing a global vision, not just a Minnesota citizenship. Creativity alongside learning will lead to success after school." He mentioned that learning really begins before kindergarten, when kids have a "massive hunger for knowledge." Some educators can even tell what a child's future is by grade three based on what they know, he said.
Franklin has an impressive portfolio, but one of the most prized positions he said he carries is being a father. He left his job when his wife died of breast cancer to home school his daughter, Christina, who is now in college. Franklin also has three boys who are grown and he bragged about their trip to Europe this past year.
Page 2 of 2 - UMC kept Franklin very busy all day Thursday and Friday morning with a total of seven presentations. Besides the noon luncheon, he met with Chancellor Fred Wood and his cabinet, spoke to the Human Resource Management class, and met with the National Society for Leadership and Success.