This week my friends at Maguire Associates invited me to use their platform to discuss solutions for at-risk students, specifically students of color.
Adjusting to a university campus can be challenging for any freshman, but especially so for AHANA (African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American) students. At Boston College where we took retention for Black and Latino students from 17% to 95%, we realized success by establishing mentoring programs. Specifically, I had the honor of creating the Benjamin Elijah Mays Program.
The program ensured that a select group of students entered into an ongoing, personal relationship with faculty, staff, and administrators. The aim of this initiative was to alleviate feelings of alienation and isolation experienced by students who arrive on campus needing someone to sensitively guide them in navigating an environment vastly different from the one they hailed from.
Prior to assuming their roles as mentors, the selected faculty, staff, and administrators undergo a comprehensive training program intended to clearly define what it means to be a mentor; introduce them to potential protégés who provide a sense of what it feels like to be a student of color on a predominately white campus; and share ideas about what to do to make students feel welcomed and empowered to navigate campus life.