iSchool senior Anthony Herbert delivered the leadership speech at the Coming Back Together banquet.
By: Diane Stirling
When Anthony Louis Herbert Jr., a senior at the School of Information Studies (iSchool), was nominated as student co-chair of this year’s Coming Back Together celebration at Syracuse University, he expected to be inspired by the many successful alumni he’d get to meet. A little surprisingly, he discovered, he and his cohort of students are a huge source of inspiration to those alumni, too.
Coming Back Together, started in 1983 at Syracuse University, was the first reunion of its kind in the nation. It brings African American and Latino alumni back to campus to celebrate their accomplishments, experience the University's growth, and expose current students to successful role models.
Being a student host last weekend kept Herbert on his toes. The Information Management & Technology major is a Syracuse Eight Scholar and an Undergraduate Black and Hispanic Scholar. From Jamaica, Queens, Anthony is the first male on his mother’s side of the family to attend college and the first child on his father’s side to do so. A National Honor Society member in high school, he’s been a natural leader and a community volunteer. A computer whiz, he’s been his family’s go-to IT guy, too. “My cousin used to tell me that I’ve been fixing the family’s computers since I was five,” he laughed. “They told me that since a young age, I’ve been into it.”
Over CBT weekend, as Anthony chatted with alumni, he thanked them for their support and for the opportunities they present current students. However, he was surprised to hear them thanking him in return. “I’d thank them, and they’d say, ‘No, stop—thank you—you’re showing us that everything we’re doing is working, and that it’s worth it,’” he described.
It turns out that Anthony and 40 other scholars were inspiring the alumni, too, he says. “They thanked me for continuing to be strong and for powering through my education, and for showing them that not only me, but the other scholars, are succeeding. We were showing them that by them motivating us, we were also motivating them.”
Seeing the alumni bonding with one another and connecting with students really lit a fire under him, Anthony said. “It really encourages me. Not only were they saying, ‘We did this, you can do this,’ [but also] ‘We expect you to do this.’ It shows me this is my future, this is my legacy.” Compared to his parents, “I have a lot more opportunity and a lot more support behind me, so it really motivates me to succeed and do well, more so than ever before,” he added.
With a long record of achievements, Anthony has made the most of his time here. He’s president of the newly formed Information Security Club; head captain for the student team competition organized by the iSchool’s Center for Convergence and Emerging Technologies (CCENT); and is involved with a number of student groups. He’s also worked as a network technician and associate technology analyst at CCENT; as a student consultant at the University's IT Services unit, and as a teaching assistant.
He encourages other students to get engaged beyond the classroom while they have the leisure time and the wide range of activities here. He advises, “talk to and meet a lot of people, because you never know who your friends are going to be, and how you can help them or they can help you. Get involved in whatever you find interesting. You’ve got to seize these opportunities when you can.” He notes the significance of that engagement. “With the iSchool, I have the ability to make an impact and be involved in things at one of the best, if not the best, information school in the country, and I’m able to be a leader inside that institution.”
Now starting his job hunt process and looking back on his undergraduate years, Anthony’s a bit nostalgic that his term of formal schooling is nearing an end. He wants to undertake graduate school in a few years, but for now is focused on obtaining a junior position in IT systems, network, engineering, or security administration. He wants to work for a major company in New York, though his ultimate goal is to be the chief information officer of a big company, or a chief executive officer of an IT firm, he said.
After giving his leadership speech at the CBT gala dinner, Anthony notes how another turn of circumstance came to be. The role models he was addressing there told him to be prepared to give another speech soon—at the next CBT gathering, when he, too, is an alumnus, a professional success, and a role model like they are.