HBCU Buzz stopped Craig Stokes, a graduate of North Carolina A&T and a National Youth and College Speaker, for advice that can benefit current HBCU students. Check out some simple tips from a young, black entrepreneur in the Buzz’s latest interview.

CraigStokes-PressPhoto-2Question: How does graduating from an HBCU play a part in your life?

Answer: It’s extremely difficult to get much done in life on your own – eventually you’ll need to reach out to other people to help you realize your dreams. Attending and graduating from college in general played an enormous role in helping me identify who I was as a person, lay the foundation for me as a brand and what I ultimately wanted to do in my life, and establish an amazing network of lifelong friends and supporters. Attending North Carolina A&T, specifically, establish a greater sense of pride in the HBCU community and motivated me to go out and represent the university well.

Question: Voter turnout in the minority community was better in 2008. What inspired you to launch your clothing line ‘My Vote Counts?’

Answer: I noticed in 2008, amid the historical race to the White House, that everyone was creating some form of an Obama or McCain t-shirt and I wanted to grab some of that attention and redirect it in a different way. What started out as a retail-quality, non-partisan line of t-shirts quickly transformed into an international movement of sorts. I wanted My Vote Counts™ to inspire people to connect with the issues they are passionate about and to find ways to make your vote count (e.g. donating money, launching a charity). The My Vote Counts™ campaign and line of shirts ended up being extremely successful and received international television exposure. The t-shirts were sold at college bookstores, worn by celebrities, billionaires, and former United States presidents.

Question: How does it feel to be compared to Oprah Winfrey?

Answer: It’s truly an honor to be compared to someone so influential on so many fronts. Not only is she an accomplished TV personality but she also is an acclaimed actor, renowned philanthropist she is also the poster child for the idea that anything is possible. I want my legacy to mirror that of Ms. Winfrey’s and to be compared to her validates in many ways that I’m headed in the right direction. Now, if only I can meet her in person – that would be the icing on the cake!

Question: Any advice for current students who have inspirations of being in the media?

Answer: I didn’t graduate with a degree in media. What I did do is believe that I was and still am capable of using my God-given gifts to create the life I want for myself. I started my web series, Style Minute, with no budget and no revenue coming in – all had been a great friend willing to shoot and edit my show and a passion to create a brand for myself that I believed would pay off one day. My advice is simple: get started. It may not be perfect in the beginning but you have to start somewhere in order to build your momentum. The second advice I’d give is to put yourself out there consistently and frequently so that people start buying into your brand. I released a new, high-quality episode (consistency) of Style Minute every day of the week (frequency) in order to build my brand and kick-start my dreams of having my own TV show. Lastly, let people know what your intentions are and what you’re aspiring to do. You’d be surpassed how willing people are to help you reach your dreams.

Question: Any other comments?

Answer: I’m passionate about inspiring high school and college age students and finding ways to be significant in their lives. One way I do this is by working with schools and universities around the country to bring me in to speak to students about building their personal brand. Students and administrators can contact with me at http://www.HearCraigSpeak.com or via my personal site at http://www.CraigStokes.com.

Robert Hoggard is a HBCU Buzz Staff Writer and a sophomore at the American Baptist College. Follow him on Twitter.

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