Mark your calendars and make plans to attend the 10th Minority Mentoring Picnic in Hialeah on Saturday, November 9. The picnic, with a purpose of linking mentors and mentees, takes on special significance this year as The Florida Bar’s first African-American president, Eugene Pettis, will attend again to share wise career advice.
“The Minority Mentoring Picnic has developed into a ‘must attend’ event for minority students across the state of Florida,” Pettis said. “It is the single place where you can come and network with lawyers and judges from throughout South Florida in a relaxed and fun-filled atmosphere. It has been a pleasure to watch this event grow each and every year. In truth, I think the lawyers and judges who attend, in order to develop mentoring relationships, are getting as much out of it as the law students. That is by definition a win-win.”
The picnic’s creator, Miami lawyer John Kozyak, grew up in a totally segregated community and was in high school when the 1964 civil rights legislation was implemented, sparking his longtime commitment to creating opportunities for minority students. The Kozyak Minority Mentoring Foundation is gearing up to fund four $5,000 scholarships so that minority students can intern for a judge or work for a nonprofit next summer.
Law students from all over the state — and even some from out of state — gather at noon at Amelia Earhart Park, at 401 East 65 St., Hialeah, hoping to receive advice from lawyers and judges while they work to get their law degrees and enter the legal profession.
Under the shade of the “Leaders and Legends” tent, law students have gotten valuable advice from Florida’s legal luminaries, such as former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, former ABA President Steve Zack, and Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince.
Amid the music and laughter and tents of delicious food, the mentoring magic works. Here’s what Florida Coastal law student Jennifer Cornwell had to say: “I am a minority student who completed a brief form at the picnic. As a result, Mr. Kozyak contacted me himself. He actually wanted to help. He gave me honest feedback about my resume and answered my questions via email. . . .Mr. Kozyak’s feedback helped me to obtain a federal judicial externship for the summer. Thank you, mentors. A small investment goes a long way.”
For more information and to R.S.V.P. for the picnic, go to www.kmmfoundation.org.