Urban Male Leadership: A Support System

By Randell Evans

The Urban Leadership Program at Lehman addresses the challenges many young males of color face, including lack of effective education and few role models.

“Our mission is for each student to have a support system to graduate from college,” says Michael Deas, director of the program.

Deas and The Urban Male Leadership Program (UMLP) recently held a welcome reception at Lehman College to introduce their group to students.

As students ate a free lunch of fried chicken and Cajun rice, they listened to inspirational speeches from the program’s leaders and affiliates. The speakers announced that the group will soon be holding a Take Back the Night event to speak out against domestic violence and sexual assault.

The Urban Male Leadership Program is designed to help first-year and transfer students transition to Lehman College. The group aims to provide support by strengthening students’ academic skills, aiding their personal development and enriching their characters.

The leadership program encourages student members to reach out to others –- mainly minorities –- to keep them off the streets, out of prison and in the school system.

“Our aim is to help black and Latino men transition and pipeline into college and stay in college to successfully graduate,” Deas said.

The UMLP provides students with mentorship, academic intervention and workshops.

Mentorship Coordinator Dwight Stephenson said one-on-one motivation and sharing secrets to success is what the program is all about.

“We engage students and show them their strengths, as well as pairing students with study buddies,” Stephenson said.

Jeremy Rivera is a freshman at Lehman College who is majoring in social work. He said the mentorship program helped him when he was struggling in one of his classes last semester.

“Marvin Sanchez was one of my mentors, and he was a political science major, which was good because he was able to help me with my philosophy class when I was struggling,” Rivera said. “They have people for different areas that are willing to help students.”

The academic intervention program helps students who are having trouble registering for class. They help students understand how the academic system works and troubleshoot when it doesn’t go smoothly.

“When things don’t go okay, we know a way around them,” said Hank Williams, the Academic Intervention and Success Coordinator. “We can get in contact with someone to reach out on how to help you.”

Other workshops teach students how to get top grades and and how to be critical thinkers. Procrastination can be a big problem for students. The UMLP has two workshops that address the issue, helping students improve their writing skills and save time on assignments.

“I improved my essay writing and stopped procrastinating on papers,” said David Tavarez a 21-year-old junior who is a business administration major.

The Urban Male Leadership Program is one of the programs under the Lehman’s Division of Student Affairs, but it sponsors events.

“It is important to understand that we are the circle of support,” Deas said. “It is anchored by faculty, students, deans, the president and everyone who has a hand in this organization, which is why it is called the circle of support.”

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