A²MEND Student Mentees Become 2022 College Graduates – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel

Jason Haskins (Courtesy Photo)

Thirteen students mentored by the African American Men’s Education and Development Network (A²MEND) graduated from college last spring.

A²MEND is a nonprofit organization led by African-American male faculty who volunteer their academic and professional expertise to promote institutional change in the California community college system to increase Black student success.

According to A²MEND’s board of directors, students with an Associate’s degree move on to a four-year college, while others who have earned a bachelor’s degree continue their education through a master’s program or have already begun their careers. A²MEND members provide mentoring support that emphasizes the successful completion of undergraduate education.

With a young daughter to support, he decided to go to college to position himself for better career opportunities. After enrolling at Diablo Valley College, he met Dr. Eric Handy, who encouraged him to get involved with A²MEND.

His connections through the organization helped him land a student job as an assistant to the college president. When Haskins eventually opened up about his homelessness, his mentor, Dr. Terence Elliott, graciously opened his home for him to live in while he worked toward his degree.

While carrying a full academic load and working in college, Haskins took on a second job as an Uber driver. After earning his associate’s degree, he transferred to Arizona State University after receiving an Uber scholarship that paid his full tuition.

Haskins, who is continuing his education at ASU by pursuing a master’s degree in organizational leadership, plans to use his education to work in construction management to help developers develop affordable housing for the homeless and low-income.

“I appreciate A²MEND for filling the fellowship gap for black students,” said Haskins, who is also the father of a young son. “Organizations like A²MEND are what we need in our community.”

Cesar Orozco (Courtesy Photo)

Another student mentor who is grateful for A²MEND’s presence is Cesar Orozco, who graduated with an associate’s degree in social work from Moreno Valley College. Orozco heard about A²MEND from a college counselor during her freshman year.

“I went through a lot of personal struggles and stress at the time,” he said. “I was hoping that A²MEND would help me change my life, and it did. They helped me feel that I could break free from my situation.”

Today, Orozco is headed to UC Santa Barbara to study sociology. His career aspiration is to become a college counselor to help students with similar struggles that he experienced. “I want to help other students by giving them a second chance with an education opportunity,” he said.

Zaire Pruitt (Courtesy Photo)

Student mentor Zaire Pruitt, who made the dean’s list as a Moorpark College graduate, believes A²MEND has influenced him to persevere in his studies and activism on campus. Diagnosed with ADHD at a young age, Prewitt said the stigma of the diagnosis often made him doubt himself.

His sensitivity to learning led him to become a tutor for a non-profit organization that mentors African American elementary and middle school students. Noticing his interest in supporting students of color, one of his professors recommended that he get involved with the student branch of A²MEND. Months after joining the organization, he participated in A²MEND’s Study Abroad Program, where board members annually accompany mentored students on a field trip to Africa.

“Going to Africa was a holistic experience,” Previtt said. “It’s helped me learn how to be more patient with myself and be prepared for opportunities when they arise.”

After returning to college as a sophomore, Prewitt put these self-discoveries into action, becoming vice president and later president of the student branch of A²MEND, while also serving as secretary of the college’s Black Student Union.

“A²MEND helped me build my confidence,” said Prewitt, who plans to transfer to Whittier College to study marketing. “The A²MEND board members believed in me.”

A²MEND Student Mentees Become 2022 College Graduates – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel Source link A²MEND Student Mentees Become 2022 College Graduates – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel

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