One of the most important aspects of Dometi Pongo's visit was the extended time he took conversing with students and offering them advice about moving forward in the academic and professional careers. After his brief presentation, he spent a few hours responding to non-stop questions from students.
They wanted advice about what they should be doing right now. They wanted to know ways they might position themselves for careers in entertainment. They wanted his thoughts on the dreams they had for themselves. They wanted suggestions about what to read, what to listen to, what to view.
One student informed Pongo that she was majoring in art, but had not settled yet on a medium. He gave her access to a link featuring more artwork.
Another student talked about how nervous he gets speaking in public, though he wants to pursue a career in entertainment. Pongo gave advice on how to calm his nerves and push forward.
Students kept coming with question after question after question. Pongo kept responding and responding and responding.
When I was initially organizing the event, I assumed that the public presentation would be the most important aspect of the visit. And that portion of the day was really important. However, what proved particularly invaluable was the one-on-one and small group time that Pongo spent with students.
I hadn't initially considered just how valuable that time would be. But I should have. We have a large number of students with interests in arts, culture, and entertainment, but relatively little access to folks who are working in those fields at a really high level.
Pongo has been a correspondent and host at MTV now for 5 years. And years before that, he covered reporting and hosting duties for a radio station in Chicago. At the same time, he was running an artist lounge series in the city. So we're talking nearly 10 years of formal experience in the field.
All of that is to say, he was well-positioned to meet and converse with students and provide them with valuable ideas based on his experiences moving from SIUE to where he is now as a professional.