- Behind The Scenes
STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)-- Officials at Mississippi State University are going above and beyond to help a group of students that have historically been at a disadvantage when it comes to higher education.The Office of Diversity and Equity at Mississippi State University sponsored a conference that focused on how to assist young men of color in becoming successful college graduates. Enhancing the academic achievement of men of color was the overall theme and the invited speakers focused on expanding the conversation when it comes to African American males.
Dr. Fred Bonner II, the guest speaker, said "We always talk about the deficits. African American males are not doing well, not scoring well, all of the bad stuff. Well we've heard enough of that. Let's focus on that population that is doing well academically, that is stepping up to the plate as far as responsibilities and to reframe the conversation that we have about that population."
Dr. Bonner was one of many guests on hand to discuss the latest research on African American males in higher education and possible solutions to the challenges they face. African American males are the least likely of all groups to graduate from college. MSU students in attendance said they were excited to hear what the men who came before them had to say.
Jonathan Peterson, an MSU student said, "I'm a communication major with a minor in economics. I'm thinking about law school but the future is a little bit uncertain. I'm learning so much and it's really helping me to grow and figure out exactly how I want to help people with my life."
John Sims, an MSU student said, "I'm definitely here to learn about leadership skills, manhood, manly deeds, brotherhood and I just want to learn everything that they learned."
Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum said that having a conference to address the issues that men of color face is not only good for the University but positively impacts future generations.
I'm proud of the fact that our university has the highest percentage of African American students at Mississippi State and our students do very well. But if we can do things to help them be more successful, to have higher graduation rates. It means they're going to to on into life and have an education, be successful and lead the path for others to come to Mississippi State or go to other colleges and universities and be successful.
In the afternoon, focus groups comprised of students, alumni and guests speakers were formed to have more intimate conversations about how to succeed in higher education. Some of the panelists included Brigadier General Samuel Nichols Jr., Dr. Lorenzo Esters of Kentucky State University, Marcus Thompson from the Institutions of Higher Learning in Mississippi and Dr. Oliver Myers of Mississippi State.