SMCC Training Minorities for College Success
For the second year in a row, as part of the Minority Male Summer Bridge Program, 15 recently graduated high school men earned five free college credits while learning about leadership, community service, self-awareness, culture and educational advancement. College-level courses in math and creating college success were also incorporated into the program.
The students, who were accepted through an application process, included Jamil Bonhart, Betty H. Fairfax High School; Henry Erives, Cesar Chavez High School; Rashawn Hart, South Mountain High School; Isaiah Haynes, Tempe High School; Heulises Noel Lopez, Tempe High School; Jose Martinez, Carl Hayden High School; Gerardo Orona, Cesar Chavez High School; Lamont Pounds, Cesar Chavez High School; Kevin Reyes, Tempe High School; Malik Temple, Humanities and Sciences Academy; Sergio Vargas, Cesar Chavez High School; Cesar Avila, South Pointe High School; Luis Rivera; Alex Herrera, South Mountain High School; and Mikal Benion, Cesar Chavez High School.
“We primarily worked with our feeder high schools within the South Mountain area,” said Christopher Erran, coordinator of recruitment services at South Mountain Community College, of the enrollment process. “And because this is specifically STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) focused, applicants were encouraged to look into going in the field of STEM, or at least explore that area.”
Starting on May 28, students attended SMCC on Monday through Thursday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Each day involved structured tutoring in the Learning Resource Center, homework sessions, math and college success classes, and special events with minority mentors on Wednesdays. The five-week session ended on June 27 with 100 percent retention.
The year’s MMSBP was funded through a collaboration of community support, South Mountain Community College, the Maricopa Community College District office and the Western Alliance to Expand Student Opportunities-Hispanic Research Center at Arizona State University.
In 2012, of the 30 students who went though the program, 87 percent enrolled in college in the fall, while 73 percent continued on in the spring. Eighteen of the 26 fall enrollees attended South Mountain Community College.
“Our main focus is they continue on through their higher education, specifically with South Mountain Community College, because they are part of our feeder area,” Erran added. “But, in some cases, they do go to our sister colleges or directly to a university.”
In addition to enrollment in other Maricopa Community Colleges, other schools represented from last year’s class include Pima Community College, University of Arizona and Grand Canyon University. One student entered the Air Force Academy.
Current research reports show just 1.4 out of 10 minority male students enrolled in community colleges nationwide earn a certificate or degree. One way Maricopa Community Colleges are helping increase this figure is through the Male Empowerment Network, which allows MMSBP students to continue their engagement after classes begin. The club starts on all campuses this fall.
“We really want to create that connection even after Summer Bridge through this MENs club,” stressed Erran, adding that students will also have an opportunity to connect with staff and faculty mentors.
The MENs club and mentor program will be open to all minority male students.