Former student-athletes visited the Forty Acres to participate in the DDCE’s 38th Annual Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights titled: “Game Changers: Excellence on the Field and Beyond.” This year’s event, held on Nov. 2 at Rowling Hall, celebrated the impact of student-athletes who use their platforms to create positive change.
Below are a few highlights from the event. You can find more photos on our Flickr account.
Members of the Onyx Honor Society greeted guests at the door. They are among several campus sponsors who help make this event happen every year.
Serving as the MC for the evening, Dr. Alicia Moreno, associate director of the Global Leadership and Social Impact and Monarch programs, provided a warm welcome to the crowd.
UT’s dance troupe Front N’ Center treated guests to a live performance.
UT Track and Field/Cross Country athlete Marilyn Nwora, starts off the panel discussion with three former student-athletes. Pictured from left: Cynthea Rhodes-Patterson, Trevante Rhodes and Nathaniel Hughes. Nwora (pictured on the right) is a graduate student studying design with a focus on health, and she is a member of the DDCE’s Longhorns for Equity, Access & Diversity (LEAD) initiative.
Cythea Rhodes-Patterson (B.A., English ’94), a former UT and USA Track and Field athlete, discussed the many unique skills and experiences student-athletes bring to the table in their personal and professional lives. During her talk, she shared how she discovered an interest in recruitment in athletics, which helped her find her path to human resources. Now, she serves as senior human resources manager at the Home Depot Technology Center, where she is making a difference by spearheading several community involvement and diversity initiatives in the Austin area.
Trevante Rhodes, (B.S., Applied Learning and Development’12) reflected on how his experiences as a UT Track and Field athlete helped fuel his determination to be his very best on the big screen. Now a critically acclaimed actor, Rhodes is best known for his work in the Academy Award-winning film “Moonlight.” He also starred in several films including “BirdBox,” “Bruiser” and “Mike.” In addition to his appearance at the panel discussion, he met with a group of College of Fine Arts students earlier in the day to discuss his craft and his journey from UT Austin to the silver screen.
Dr. Nathaniel Hughes inspired the crowd by sharing his journey from the NFL to medical school. During his talk, he shared how his experiences on the football field sparked his interest in helping injured players. He later discovered a passion for anesthesiology, which led him to where he is today: a Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology Fellow at Emory University. In addition to saving lives, he also mentors and supports future medical professionals with the goal of diversifying the field of medicine.
After a brief Q&A following the panel discussion, awards were given to this year’s Heman Marion Sweatt Legacy Award recipients. From left: Dr. LaToya Smith, vice president for diversity and community engagement; Sameeha Rizvi, senior, College of Natural Sciences and Steve Hicks School of Social Work; Ariana Seeloff, senior, College of Liberal Arts; Malik Crowder, assistant director, Multicultural Engagement Center; Dr. Lydia Contreras, professor, Cockrell School of Engineering; vice provost for faculty diversity, equity and inclusivity, Provost’s Office; Mason Porter: senior, College of Liberal Arts.
The program concluded with an inspiring performance by Chris Teague (pictured above) and an audio clip on the history of Heman Marion Sweatt. Narrated by Brenda Burt, the clip was pulled from the first chapter of “Overcoming: The First History of Desegregation at the University of Texas at Austin,” written by the beloved Almetris Marsh Duren and UT staff member Louise Iscoe in 1979.
Guests later gathered in the reception hall, where they enjoyed a catered dinner, took photos and reconnected with one another.
More about the Heman Sweatt Symposium for Civil Rights
The annual symposium is named for Heman Sweatt, an African American who was denied admission to the UT Austin School of Law in 1946 on the basis of race. The landmark Sweatt v. Painter Supreme Court ruling, which granted Sweatt admission to The University of Texas School of Law, helped pave the way for the admission of African Americans into segregated colleges and universities.