A couple weeks ago, I received an evaluation of the
Black Male Achievers (BMA) program in my inbox. For those of you who don’t
know, BMA is a TCC student organization designed to empower and educate its
black male students on the importance of the successful completion of their
post-secondary education through the practices of academic, social and
occupational excellence. I had requested the evaluation in order to determine the
educational and personal impact of this program on its participants.
According to the data collected, it was found that BMA
members have higher course success rates, higher retention rates, and a higher graduation
rate compared to their non-BMA peers. Five of the program’s members are active
members of Student Government Association (SGA) and of the twelve members who
graduated from TCC this month, most will be transferring on to a state
Perhaps more significantly, all of the members of BMA reported
the program has made a positive impact on their lives, empowering them as
students and as citizens to be the change they wish to see in the world. They
cited their exposure to positive role models, opportunities to network with
professionals, exposure to black history and opportunities to give back to the
community as benefits of the program, creating an environment that supports
student success. One student stated that the program helped him get his life
back on track, while another called it a “life changer.” Through the
requirements of the program, rules become habits and habits become success.
Why is this important?
At the core of every higher education mission is the
desire to bring out the best in students through opportunity. But at an open
education institution like ours, we bring out the best in students through equity of opportunity. We aren’t
admitting cookie-cutter students based on someone’s opinion of what a perfect academic
should be. We are open education which means we welcome a vibrant and diverse
group of individuals with unique needs and goals. Our job is to create the setting where any
student, regardless of race, gender, religion, etc., can take their first step
towards realizing their full potential.
We cannot demand success from our students without providing a variety of outlets through which they can grow as individuals.
We cannot demand success from our students without
providing a variety of outlets through which they can grow as individuals. This
is why we have programs like BMA, Connect2Complete, Phi Theta Kappa, Model
United Nations, Theatre TCC, STEM programs, International Student Organization,
Student Veterans Association and many others. It’s why we have enriching study
abroad programs, a well-equipped library and an award-winning tutoring center.
These are not officious organizations and services meant to make us look better
on paper; they are living, breathing resources that provide the equity of
opportunity our students need.
Equity of opportunity also means going beyond our
campus. Relationships with area universities and partnerships with local
businesses are equally vital. From the on-campus university partners to our
workforce training clients, we are always working on paths to help students
along after graduation. In fact, I feel there is a need for an annual meeting
with Florida State University and Florida A&M University leadership to
evaluate the value of our current degrees and catalog the region’s needs.
Resolve is, of course, the student’s responsibility –
college is hard work and takes no small amount of perseverance – but providing equity
of opportunity is our responsibility. To that end, we will proudly continue to
foster organizations such as BMA and the valuable qualities they promote in our