Eagerly seeking motivation and inspiration, nearly 800 young men of color from 18 middle and high schools converged on California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) on March 17 for the Male Success Alliance’s (MSA) 8th annual spring summit “Reclaiming Our Legacy” to learn how to reach their potential, and find the tools and resources to do so.
Each spring, MSA hosts the day-long summit which attracts students from MSA partner schools from the Compton, Centinela, and Lynwood school districts. The students, many dressed for success in suits or ties, attended workshops and breakout sessions throughout the day. They got to know CSUDH students from their neighborhoods, schools, and communities who are exceling in their college studies, finishing their degrees, and becoming leaders in their families and communities.
“Part of the reason we have to do this work is because folks don’t expect us to be here. They don’t recognize your brilliance, they don’t recognize your intelligence,” said keynote speaker and CSUDH alumnus Tyrone C. Howard (’94, M.A., education), associate dean for equity and inclusion and professor of education in UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, raising the students’ energy and enthusiasm during the summit’s lunch program. “I watched how each and every one of you walked in here this morning—polite, respectful, greeting folks, shaping people’s hands, dressed for success, and going places. Every time you do that you change the narrative regarding how people see us. When you walk in here with pride and dignity, as you did today, you change the game.”
The number of students the summit attracts each year is testimony to the growing success of MSA. Since its launch in 2009, MSA student leaders and staff have been successfully mentoring their “brothers” to academic and personal success at CSUDH by promoting a college-staying, and college–graduating culture through academic support, professional development, and mentoring.
In turn, MSA members promote a “college-going” culture off campus as tutors and mentors in local schools within the communities of more than 150 teen-aged boys to help reverse the trend of poor academic achievement among young men of color. They believe that males of color are not “at risk,” but “at promise.”
“Our young men care about one another and care about their community. The term brotherhood is not used loosely. They care deeply about pushing one another to excel inside and outside of the classroom,” said Mathew Smith, director of educational partnerships for MSA. “We work with our young men to help them translate their brotherhood and their love for the community into postsecondary success.”