by Karina Aguilar
The Black and Latino Male Mentoring Program was created by Carl Hunter, the Assistant Director of Multicultural Student Support Services, in April of 2020.
The Black and Larino Male Mentoring Program is a group that focuses on supporting minority students to achieve their academic, career, and personal goals through continued support by their peers and professional staff.
“The program is about a safe space for these two historically underrepresented groups in higher education,” said Hunter,“It’s a safe space for them where we talk about different issues and how to navigate through college and stuff like that.”
In addition to creating a safe space for students involved, another major goal is to create a community for Black and Latino males.
“They help us understand that the world we live in may be difficult, but we have each other to talk to–we have our brothers–and we don’t have to do this alone,” said Jonathon Julion, a senior philosophy major and participant in the program.
“Having the right people that you can connect with can really help you see things differently or help find your voice to really be the change you want to see,” he added.
Not only is it important to students like Julion to feel connected to their peers, but he said it is also crucial that students remain involved on campus to keep them accountable and on track to complete their degrees.
“Statistics show that a student who is involved on campus is much more likely to graduate from that campus, said Hunter. “Involvement on campus could definitely be to their benefit when it comes to retaining these populations of students and helping them to graduate.”
On top of helping students stay on track to graduate, another potential benefit of joining this program that students have noted is the assistance in preparation for post graduate life.
“It’s a very helpful program for minority males. We do a lot of things within our communities, we have a lot of support, we get help with post graduate plans, it’s something good to put on your resume, and there is a lot of networking involved, said Cauve Vinsion, a senior exercise fitness major. “You also meet a lot of people and make a lot of friends within your community.”
According to Hunter, one of his inspirations for while developing the mentor program is the idea of Sankofa.
“It’s important to teach that old African proverb Sankof, which is to reach back and to pull forward–you help someone else along,” said Hunter. “It’s very important for a mentor organization to have that, that no matter how high you get, you’re not too good to reach back and help someone else along.”
Julion said he also really enjoys the focus on giving back to the community.
“My favorite part of the Black and Latino Mentoring Program is actually giving back and helping the next generation, by showing them there’s other ways to be successful and really teaching them life skills, explained Julion. “I believe that if young minority males see leaders like them, they are definitely going to see somebody that they can look up to.”
The Black and Latino Male Mentoring Program has held events, such as “A Peace of Mind”, to focus more on mental health in young Black and Latinos lives.
“Mental health is very important for our students who sometimes don’t have the avenues to express themselves or even to know coping mechanisms,” said Hunter.
“We had Dr. Brian Humphrey to lead us through mindful meditation. He allowed a safe space for people to talk about how they are feeling, talk about different ways to cope with that, and healthy ways to deal with issues that they were having throughout the pandemic,” he added.
Members of the program said they want to continue to spread their message and help connect more Black and Latino males with this program.
“I would like to use different platforms– whether it’s social media or making a podcast– to really channel our energy and really educate people,” explained Julion. “I think that’s the way people can really learn about this program and how we can help young people understand what it actually means to be an ally in the world we live in and how to help the next generation of young Black and Latino males.”