SANFORD - Central Carolina Community College students Sam Headen and Chris Wilson, of Lee County, and Dustin Mauldin and Kelly Zelaya, of Chatham County, attended the Male Minority Mentoring Conference in Durham with one goal in mind: become part of the next generation of Renaissance men.
The four are participants in CCCC's grant-funded minority male mentoring program, Men of Academic Distinction and Excellence (MADE). At the Oct. 31 Mentoring Conference, "The New Renaissance: An Innovative Approach to Education," they heard speakers such as Tulane University Associate Professor Dr. Calvin Mackie, award-winning journalist Jeff Johnson, and author Dr. David Washington.
Mackie presented startling statistics on the educational levels of male minorities in America. He shared stories about the challenges he overcame in his own life, such as beginning his college career with an eighth grade reading level and weak SAT scores.
Mackie rose to receive his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech, founded Channel Zero Group educational and motivational consulting company, and became a tenured associate professor at Tulane. The Louisiana native was featured in Spike Lee's HBO Hurricane Katrina documentary, "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Parts."
"You either make something, break something, or take something," he told the men at the conference. "Those who can't make something, break something or take something. We want you to make something."
Johnson, who is also a social activist, political commentator, author, and chief White House correspondent for TheGrio.com, said, "Real men build legacies." He spoke of the importance of mentoring programs in the N.C. Community College System for those it works with: "Mentoring is important because when your gifting takes you to places that your character can't handle, you need that mentor."
At the conference, the CCCC MADE scholars took advantage of the opportunity to learn from and speak with many of the presenters. Mauldin summed up the experience as "an excellent way for young minority students from community colleges to experience all the educational opportunities that mentors can give."
Zelaya said, "Education will make you a successful professional, but what is a professional without their foundation based on family, ethics, and faith? This conference has completely transformed me by showing me that any boy can dream, but it takes a man to work on their soul, heart, and family and then enroll in developing the mind."
Washington, the keynote speaker, also spoke of the importance of mentoring, saying, "It hits directly with my heart."
He earned his Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Administration from two different universities within 18 months, then completed a Ph.D. from North Carolina State University in a record three years' time. His book, "Life is a Choice: A Guide to Success in Life" is scheduled for release in January.
When asked what he would take away from the event, Headen said, "The most important thing I got from the conference was realizing my true purpose through many different vessels, and how to use it."
Wilson said, "One of the important things I got was the realization of the importance of having a support system to provide guidance; one that will enable you to set standards and reach new heights."
Monty Hickman, associate director for NCCCS's Student Success Support Services, put the importance of the conference in personal terms: "I have a four-year old son who has to follow behind these young men and a two-year daughter who will have to date them. Really, there are four reasons: my four-year-old son, my two-year-old daughter, the need to stress the importance of education, and fourth, someone did it for me."
Students interested in participating in the MADE program at Central Carolina Community College or individuals interested in volunteering should contact Talia Higgs, coordinator of Academic Assistance and co-director of MADE, at (919) 718-7505 or email@example.com, or Solomon McCauley, Vocational-Technical Programs recruiter and co-director of MADE, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students in Central Carolina Community College minority male mentoring program, Men of Academic Distinction and Excellence (MADE), recently attended the Male Minority Mentoring Conference in Durham, 'The New Renaissance: An Innovative Approach to Education.' Pictured (from left) are Talia Higgs, co-director of MADE; students Chris Wilson and Sam Headen, of Lee County; conference speaker Dr. David Washington; students Dustin Mauldin and Kelly Zelaya, of Chatham County; and Solomon McCauley, co-director of MADE.