U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce Speaks at Oakwood

Almost 300 students and employees heard Jay Williams, U.S. assistant secretary of commerce for economic development, speak.

Because of a collaborative effort between Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee; Dr. Carlton Byrd, senior pastor of the Oakwood University Church; and President Leslie Pollard, a group of almost 300 students and employees had the opportunity to hear Jay Williams, U.S. assistant secretary of commerce for economic development, speak on February 22, 2016.

Students of all majors and backgrounds flowed into the McKee Business and Technology auditorium - filling the room to capacity. Williams shared his journey in public service, which began with his election in 2005 as the youngest and first African American mayor in the history of Youngstown, Ohio. Although he is not a graduate of an HBCU, he raved about HBCU excellence. Williams encouraged students to not just make a dollar, but to make a difference in the black community, saying, that "you cannot be successful without being significant."

Oakwood University
Oakwood University

As the administrator of the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA), Williams is charged with leading the federal economic development agenda by promoting innovation and competitiveness, preparing American regions for growth and success in the global economy.

After Williams answered a few questions, President Pollard polled the audience about their interest in public service. Dozens of students rose to their feet - creating a memorable moment. Dr. Dedrick Blue, dean of the School of Religion, offered the closing prayer asking for blessings upon Williams and his service.