Last fall, Cardinal Stritch University debuted its first initiative focused solely on men of color. In an attempt to counter nationwide statistics that document the challenges men of color face in higher education, Stritch introduced “My Brother’s Keeper” as the latest program created to help disadvantaged, first-generation minority students make the most of their university experiences.
“Stritch’s program replicates national programs that seek to remove barriers to higher education for men of color,” said Mr. Teon Austin, Stritch’s assistant dean of students for diversity initiatives. “My Brother’s Keeper provides social, cultural, and academic enhancement to their experience, all while building a capacity for leadership.”
The initiative is creating a community of men of color of all ages who gather for events, speakers, and service projects, and have access to additional re¬sources, including mentors who also are men of color in the students’ anticipated career fields. Mr. Austin, who created Stritch’s program with faculty members Dr. Darnell Bradley and Dr. Corey Thompson, expects the mentoring piece to be a powerful component.
“If you can talk to someone in the industry, especially someone who looks like you, and you can get them vested in your success, that will help make your journey smoother,” Mr. Austin said; “and, it will make the experience feel more relevant and meaningful because you can see what’s at the end of the road through the eyes of someone who has experienced it.”
Mr. Austin, Dr. Bradley, and Dr. Thompson expected the program to take time to gain momentum and were surprised when the initial gatherings attracted twice the projected number of participants.
“MBK initiative is a wonderful platform for a group of young men of color to experience and gain a brotherhood that will last a long time,” sophomore Mr. Anthony Richmond said. “This is a way we can turn our disadvantages into advantages.”