By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer,

CBS broadcaster and host of NFL Today James Brown and NBC-4 news anchor Aaron Gilchrist joined a panel discussion that gave a group of students from D.C. Public Schools a look into their future. The panel was part of the Minority Access Incorporated College and Career Showcase in conjunction with the 20th National Role Models Conference at the Gaylord Hotel and Conference Center in Oxon Hill.

Brown and Gilchrist were two members of a group that started the weekend of preparing for life after high school with inspirational stories of how they became successful in their professional careers. Several hundred students spent more than an hour with Brown, Gilchrist, and other professionals who stressed the importance of being focused on reaching their goals, while developing an appreciation for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.

NFL Today’s James Brown and NBC-4’s Aaron Gilchrist joined a panel discussion for a group of D.C. Public School students. (Courtesy Photo)

“STEM programs are important for anybody looking at any career pursuit,” Brown told the AFRO.  “I can see how technology has advanced what we are doing .”

Gilchrist, the morning news anchor for NBC-4 in Washington, shared his poignant story of how embracing technology while working in the journalism field integrates the arts, expanding the current STEM idea into STEAM. His career, which began off camera as a part-time receptionist at a television station in Richmond, Va., forced him to learn critical behind-the-scenes skills in order for him to become a multimedia journalist. That made him a valuable commodity since he could report and produce his own content as a one-person crew.

“There was a time as journalists and broadcasters where we looked at what we do as all art. It was about the communications arts,”  Gilchrist said. “The reality is that today there is so much technology involved in what we do. We don’t do things manually the way we used to anymore. People are getting their information on so many different platforms and you have to be able to work on all of them to be able to make it in this business these days.”

At times during the panel discussion, Brown, the award-winning sports broadcaster whose multimedia contributions include host of Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” was somewhat pastoral and professorial when addressing the students. The former DeMatha High School basketball star, who later graduated from Harvard, spoke with his trademark eloquence about the drive, passion and work ethic it takes to reach their professional goals.

“Failure is an event, it is not a person,” Brown told the students before taking several questions from the audience. “When first lost football, someone said that I would get exposed at Fox because I didn’t know football and that I would be out of there in two minutes.  I was determined that nobody would out work me and 35 years later I’m still blessed to be an NFL studio host.”

The moderator for the panel discussion was Michael Akin, president and CEO of LINK Strategic Partners. The other program participants were Dr. Willie Jackson, principal of Ballou High School (DC); Madeline LaSalle, coordinator of the Academic Academy (VA Public Schools) and Miquel Moe, a commodity risk assessment engineer for NASA.