College accelerating program that mentors African-American males
08.21.2013 | By
PASADENA, Texas – As the Men of Honor program gains traction, San Jacinto College is taking steps to accelerate the program designed to increase retention and transfer rates among African-American male students.
The College recently selected veteran educator Ron Hopkins to assume the newly created position of Men of Honor director. As director, Hopkins will oversee and coordinate Men of Honor classes, meetings, and activities at all three San Jacinto College campuses.
Hopkins has worked in the field of education for 13 years, all at San Jacinto College, serving as the North Campus coordinator for testing and assessments, and as the GED chief examiner for all three campuses.
Hopkins (shown in photo at right) has been involved in Men of Honor since its inception in 2009. He served on the team that planned, designed, and launched the program. He has also served as a mentor, and taught a Men of Honor course for six semesters. “I am excited about assuming the new director position because I feel like our administrators and all who are involved in Men of Honor believe we can continue to positively influence African-American male students, further improving retention and graduation rates,” Hopkins commented. “I look forward to making positive changes.”
According to the most recent studies from the U.S. Department of Education, college graduation rates of 33.1 percent for African-American males represented the lowest among all groups studied. Hopkins says Men of Honor is helping to reverse that trend at San Jacinto College. “Our participation and success results on each campus have steadily grown each semester, and I am confident this will continue,” he remarked.
There has indeed been progress, according to figures provided by San Jacinto College’s office of research and institutional effectiveness. There have been positive gains in the three key categories that have been tracked since the Men of Honor program started four years ago – 11.7 percent increase in the number of students that stayed enrolled; 8.9 percent increase in the number of students who passed; and 12.2 percent increase in the number of Men of Honor students who were both retained and passed.
In the program, trained faculty and staff members serve as mentors for African-American male students, offering guidance, encouragement, and support. Some activities include monthly meetings, guest speaker forums, community service projects, and participation in conferences.
To build on the program’s positive momentum, Hopkins plans to “hit the ground running” when the Fall 2013 semester starts on Aug. 26. “My immediate plans as new director is to be a visible presence on each campus and to help recruit new students, with the help of returning Men of Honor students and campus mentors,” he said. “Now that the program has more resources, we will be better able to focus on weekly meetings, bi-weekly mentoring sessions, and getting men engaged with all the opportunities available at each campus, which should help to build membership.”
Hopkins’ long-range vision is for the program to flourish and perhaps provide assistance to similar programs. “I envision one day hosting a state-wide, day-long or weekend conference that would bring together other mentoring programs across the city and state,” he remarked.
Hopkins says it is critical for colleges to step up efforts that stress the value of education to African-American male students. “The African-American male is the key to the positive cultural shift in attitudes of our race,” he said. “Without education, and all of the attitudinal changes that go along with it, African-American families will not flourish as I feel that they should. Young African American males look for role models, and they need more who are educated, gainfully employed, and contributing to the family economically and emotionally.”
Aaron Moore is living proof of the positive impact the Men of Honor program can have. Moore grew up in a troubled and violent environment. At 15, he was in a gang “running the streets, using and selling drugs,” which eventually led to a prison sentence. In jail, he did some serious soul searching. “I knew I had to make a positive change in my actions,” he commented. “I had to change my environment and associates from negative to positive.”
He served eight months of a two-year sentence and was paroled for good behavior. Moore then enrolled at San Jacinto College, where he found out about Men of Honor, which provided the positive environment he was seeking. “I found mentors, and began to follow their good examples,” he said. “I also shared experiences, hopes, and plans with fellow Men of Honor members. We learned from each others’ experiences, and we would check on each other for accountability.”
Moore earned an associate degree in air conditioning technology from San Jacinto College in May, and plans to earn baccalaureate and master’s business degrees from the University of Houston. His ultimate career goal is to own his own air conditioning business.
Moore has a straightforward message for young African-American males who seem to place little value on education. “Basically, you could be setting yourself up to be at the bottom rung of the ladder,” he warns. “Earn that college certificate or degree. We need more educated African-American males in the workforce. Besides, education provides a positive self-esteem. Family and friends look at you differently, in a positive light. Like I learned in elementary school: ‘don’t be a fool, go to school.’ Please.”
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San Jacinto College offers Men of Honors classes, meetings, and activities at all three campuses. For more information, please call 281-998-6150.
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. The Achieving the Dream Leader College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $630 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.