UCO Initiates Two Programs Designed to Encourage Success of African-American Male Students

July 24, 2014

Media Contact: Sydney Monday, Intern, University Relations, 405-974-2121, smonday2@uco.edu

UCO INITIATES TWO PROGRAMS DESIGNED TO ENCOURAGE SUCCESS OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN MALE STUDENTS

The University of Central Oklahoma’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) will kick off two new programs for fall 2014, both designed to encourage the academic, professional and social success of African-American male students at Central.

The programs, the Black Male Fellows Program and the Black Male Initiative Cohort, were developed in response to low retention rates of African-American male students. They include community outreach to families, churches and organizations, the identification of at-risk students, mentoring, leadership development and academic support.           

“There are many African-American males who believe they are not college material or that if they make it to college, they won’t succeed,” said Stevie Johnson, coordinator for ODI and director of the new programs.           

“We also noticed that there are a lot of social and cultural issues that this target population faces, such as familial problems. A lot of these students have to work, commute and be a full-time college student. That’s a lot to ask for a student, especially if they are a first generation student and have people that depend on them to provide.”

The Black Male Fellows Program is designed to improve the retention, graduation and participation rates for black male students through mentoring, leadership development and academic support. Beyond their own development, fellows will serve as peer mentors to the students in the cohort program. To be considered for the program, applicants were required to have a GPA of 2.75 or above and demonstrate involvement in both the Central and Oklahoma City metro communities.

The inaugural Black Male Fellows Program class includes Cameron Buckner, a junior community and public health major from Oklahoma City; Rezahn Clayton, a senior international business administration major from Fort Worth, Texas; Antonio Harris, a sophomore kinesiology and exercise science major from Lawton; Jamal Pride, a senior criminal justice and forensic science major from Lawton; and Bryan Williams, a kinesiology and exercise fitness major from Midwest City.

The group will develop and implement a series of workshops and activities that address personal development, career planning, leadership and citizenship, and will have the opportunity to select a faculty, staff or community member as a mentor. Students who actively participate in the program will receive a $500 book award at the end of the spring semester.           

The companion program, the Black Male Initiative Cohort, will be made up of an inaugural class on 20 incoming freshman who have been identified as being “at risk” based on criteria including high school GPAs and ACT scores. In addition to receiving mentoring and attending specialized courses, students who maintain at least a 2.75 GPA in their first semester will receive a $300 tuition waiver.           

Johnson hopes that the programs, which include a strong community outreach aspect, will establish Central as an institution that actively provides support and services to black male students and prepares students and their families for college success.  

For more information about the Black Male Fellows Program or the Black Male Initiative Cohort, contact Johnson at sjohnson145@uco.edu.

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Editor’s note: To download headshots of the members of the 2014-2015 Black Male Fellows Program, visit www.uco.edu/photo/BMFP2014.