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Keynote Speakers

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Tuesday Opening Session Speaker

Dr. John Gaines

With a deep understanding of the power of personal experiences, Dr. Gaines inspires individuals to embrace their innate resilience and tap into their inner strength. Through his motivational talks, mentoring programs, and community outreach initiatives, he empowers people to transcend their perceived limitations and redefine what they believe is possible for themselves.

Dr. Gaines firmly believes that each person possesses the capacity to rise above their circumstances and carve out their own path towards success. He recognizes that resilience goes beyond merely bouncing back from adversity; it entails using challenges as opportunities for personal growth and empowerment.

Event Master of Ceremonies and

Tuesday Afternoon Closing Session Speaker

Dee Hankins

With Dee was two months old when he was placed into foster care. He bounced through foster homes until he was 12.  Most of his young life he strongly believed that no one cared about him. He felt that it was just him against the world and he was going at it alone with no light at the end of the tunnel. Statistically, almost 50% of African American males placed in the foster care system drop out of high school. They are almost 10 times more likely to end up in a prison than to ever step foot on a college campus. This would have been the case for Dee had he not had support of some key people in his educational life.  It was with their help and believe in him that allowed him to graduate from California State University; Long Beach with a B.S. in Criminal Justice. Dee is now on a mission to show every student that they can have a chance at a successful future…no matter their background!

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