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Program to mentor minority males

By Carlton Koonce echo Editor - in - Chief
On February 18, 2010

  • Gamma Beta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha step for visiting males. Willie Pace/Echo staff photographer

Looking around, it doesn't take long to realize that there is a shortage of males at N.C. Central University.

In fact, the lack of minority males at higher education institutions nationwide is no new phenomenon.

The Minority Male Mentoring Project is looking to change this discrepancy in the UNC system by persuading minority men to continue their education beyond associate degrees at one of nine state universities.

N. C. Central University and other state HBCUs, including Elizabeth City State, Fayetteville State and N. C. A & T, were awarded a grant from the UNC system to encourage minority males graduating from local community colleges to transfer to a 4-year institution.

Last Tuesday about 35 men from Durham Technical Community College and Vance-Granville Community College visited NCCU to get a taste of HBCU life.

The men toured the campus with University Centennial scholars and student leaders of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and attended workshops on topics like mentorship and career exploration.

They also attended information sessions with the offices of Undergraduate Admissions, Financial Aid and Residential Life.

"We want to bridge the gap between 2- and 4-year schools for all minorities, not just black males," said Jason Dorsette, public administration graduate and graduate assistant to the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. Dorsette also coordinates the Centennial Scholars Program.

Dorsette serves as a "big brother" to 48 men, encouraging them to develop academically and professionally while being involved in the community.

Dorsette said some of the Centennial Scholars had GPAs that barely allowed them admission to the University,  but that with mentorship they now have 3.0s and 3.5s.

With this program, "Students get a sense of accountability, so they produce," said Dorsette.

"When you're outside coming in it's hard to find a niche," he said. "A mentor can help lead to the light and provide insight and career guidance to any student."

"The men need real down-to-earth, uncensored talk to prove we care," he said. "We need to plant the seed and provide mentors to go beyond all measures to ensure success."

The mentoring program seeks to do the same for young men attending area community colleges. Dorsette said each university in the program will focus on nearby community colleges; NCCU will target DTCC and VGCC.

"We don't want to take away from the associate degrees or trades," said Dorsette. "We're just leaning toward more education. Market yourself better and demand a six-figure paycheck."

Daniel Alvarado, VGCC director of counseling services said his office considers males with a minimum 2.0 GPA and leadership potential for the program.

"Currently we have 25-program participants but the goal is to recruit an additional 25 more by this fall term," said Alvarado.

Education freshman Tyquan Ward, a Centennial scholar who took part in the tour, said several of the visiting men had already verbally committed to NCCU.

"Our very own prestigious Greek Fraternity/Sorority bowl and adequate library seemed to be the most interesting part of the tour," said Ward.

He said participants debated the best qualities for a mentor. "Common responses were trust, love, and leadership."

Kevin Rome, vice chancellor of student affairs and enrollment management, spoke to the group in a session titled "Pros and Cons of Effective Mentorship."

"We have received very positive feedback from the participants," Rome wrote in an e-mail. "I hope that we are able to do more such events in the future. The staff at NCCU did a great job with the event."

Dorsette said the same event is planned for next year around the same time.

"Several of the young men told us that they will be joining the NCCU family after they graduate from their community colleges," he said.

"NCCU is honored to be participating in this program and excited to be reaching out to minority males. They're our future."

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