Program to help minority males

Kelly Petryszyn

Focus group to determine need of new initiative

During his five years of undergraduate study at Kent State, Dametraus Jaggers felt Kent State was missing something. He didn’t know what it was until he participated in Kent State’s Columbus Program in Intergovernmental Issues in Fall 2007.

While in Columbus, he attended several programs sponsored by the Todd A. Bell National Resource Center, dedicated to facilitate the academic achievement, leadership and development of black male undergraduate students. Jaggers felt Kent State could benefit from a program like this.

“I want to give students the motivation to succeed socially, academically and professionally – both here and beyond Kent State,” said the higher education administration graduate student, who wears a suit and tie.

The program he has envisioned is titled, “Minority Male Leadership and Development Initiative.” It would be a comprehensive program to retain and graduate African American, Hispanic/Latino and Native American male students.

Jaggers talked to President Lester Lefton, the former vice provost for diversity Steve Michael and others about his idea. They suggested he conduct his own research, and he has been looking at similar programs in the country. He plans to gauge the need at the university by conducting a focus group, which will begin today.

Throughout his time at Kent State, Jaggers said he witnessed minority males struggling. He saw students working toward a degree before he got here, students who are still trying after he left. He said he hopes to change this with his initiative of reducing the six-year graduation rates to four.

According to statistics from Research, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness, minority-male students at Kent State graduate at a lower rate than all other students.

Another problem Jaggers noticed among minority-male students is that some take a semester off to go to community college or don’t finish pursuing a degree altogether – whether it’s because of academic or financial issues. The retention rates at the Kent campus are only slightly lower than all students, according to data from RPIE.

The topic is being addressed at a state level. Gov. Ted Strickland’s Closing the Achievement Gap program focuses on increasing the graduation and retention rates of students with high rates of failure. One focus of this program is black males.

After becoming aware of these issues, Jaggers said he “developed a sense of responsibility with educational excellence in the black community and beyond.”

Some of the programs he is considering making a part of his initiative are a living and learning community for minority-male students, a leadership symposium, mentoring and more.

The program has support of the Office of the President, Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, NAACP-KSU, Intercollegiate Athletics, Upward Bound, Student Success Programs, Student Multicultural Center and the Division of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs.

After completion of research on the subject, Jaggers is hoping next semester he can start implementing activities and start a pilot group.

Jaggers said he is really excited about starting the initiative and wants to help those who were in his shoes as an undergraduate.

“I want those after me to benefit and maneuver through the university system,” he said.

Contact diversity reporter Kelly Petryszyn at [email protected].