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The HEMM conference will take place in Huntsman Hall this Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Credit: Liliann Zou

On Saturday, Black Wharton will host the 37th annual Howard E. Mitchell Memorial (HEMM) conference, a business conference open to students from all undergraduate schools.

The HEMM conference — which Black Wharton describes as their “premier calendar event” — aims to expose students to the field of business, regardless of their undergraduate school. Students who attend the event will have the opportunity to participate in panels with notable speakers, attend professional workshops, and explore a career fair.

Wharton junior Jessica Brevil and Wharton sophomore Patrick Ngoma, co-chairs of the conference, are leading the event and offering two students the HEMM scholarship for their leadership skills, community involvement, and personal growth.

“The reason [the HEMM Conference was] created was to get [Black students] into corporate spaces and bring corporations to them to facilitate the improvement in diversity,” Brevil said.

First held in 1986, Black Wharton created the HEMM conference to honor the life and legacy of Howard E. Mitchell, a former professor at Penn and one of the University’s first Black faculty members. During his time at Penn, Mitchell dedicated himself to social responsibility in corporate settings.

“The whole conference focuses on corporate social responsibility and diversity and equity in the workplace,” Brevil said. “There’s a lot of opportunity for something that may be valuable for [students who attend].”

Networking is a large part of the conference’s programming. Attendees will participate in a career fair with notable HEMM sponsor companies including CapitalOne and Morgan Stanley. Students must participate in a resume drop to attend the conference so that corporations can review and scout students for future opportunities in business.

The conference will host workshops on building professional skills alongside scheduled speaker events, which, according to event organizers, are the most valuable aspect of the conference.

“By far the most essential part of the HEMM conference is that opportunity to hear from our speakers,” Ngoma said. “I had the opportunity to interact with most of them; those people are knowledgeable.”

This year’s conference features panelists working in a variety of fields. Their conversations will center around the conference’s theme of social responsibility in corporate settings and the Black experiences in the workplace.

Brevil and Ngoma said they want to encourage students who are not pursuing futures in business to attend the conference. The conference organizers hope that the wide range of activities in the program will allow everyone to take away something valuable from the conference. 

“Business is all encompassing, no matter what your field of study is,” Ngoma said. “Make time to attend HEMM … There’s a lot to be learned there.”