S.U.I.T. U.P. Preps Young Men for Professional Life
BY BRAD SAM
McKENZIE (September 2) — A pair of savvy and thoughtful McKenzie graduates spearheaded a Saturday event aimed at emphasizing to young men the importance of professionalism and teaching them basic skills for success.
Breshaun Oglesby and Edwin Dudley, both 2015 McKenzie graduates now attending Middle Tennessee State University, were inspired by the recent rash of violent incidents in their hometown to bring a sense of positivity and hope back home to the youth.
What they came up with was S.U.I.T. U.P., or Shaping Unique Individuals To Understand their Purpose, and several local leaders joined in to contribute.
The focus of the event, which was held at Connie’s Place on Broadway, was teaching young men how to tie a tie, but the hosts and featured speakers touched on broad topics, such as the proper business etiquette and the importance of education.
Oglesby and Dudley welcomed guests and introduced the first speaker, Garrett Burns, associate chaplain at Bethel University.
Burns told the story of his first suit. He grew up in an Arkansas trailer park with a single mother and one brother, and the family received second-hand clothes from “people who saw our struggle and wanted us to feel pride in our appearance.” So, he said, “My first suit came out of a trash bag.” A suit he said he wore as much as possible, though it didn’t quite fit right. When he finally did get a suit fitted just for him, from a store, he emphasized how it felt that someone thought he was worth investing in.
In closing, Burns said he was proud of the young hosts, and he knows from his experience leaving home for Bethel the importance of the skills they were imparting.
The next speaker was Willie Huffman, Assistant Director of TCAT-Paris. He said that while a suit looks good, and appearance means a lot, it doesn’t make you who you are. He stressed that “your character is what is going to carry you through life.”
He spoke about the importance of secondary education, whether it’s at a four-year college, a community college or a technical school. He said to the young people, “You can get the foundation right here in McKenzie, but you’ve got to prepare.” He encouraged them to explore their options and take the time to visit schools. “Find your niche, what works for you.”
Next, Oglesby spoke briefly about professional attire before the youth paired up with adults to learn one-on-one how to tie a tie. Mentors compared methods and taught the kids multiple knots, practicing until they were proficient.
Dudley and Oglesby gave a presentation about first impressions, confidence and etiquette. Dudley also directed guests to a chart that show the gap in median income for different levels of education, giving the young men an idea of what quality of life each salary level provides. Oglesby spoke about the value of reading.
Several gift cards were given away, including one to the winner of a tie-tying contest.
After enjoying lunch, the young men were asked to select from countless donated ties and books to take home.
Shonna Oglesby, mother of Breshaun, also assisted in hosting the event.
Speaking to The Banner, Dudley and Oglesby said they planned to continue their outreach with more activities in the future, including, but not limited to, a similar event for young ladies.
Photos by Brad Sam/The Banner