The 3rd Annual EOF Men of Color Initiative Leadership Summit.
The Leadership Summit focuses on reversing the increasing rates of minoritized males separating from college before earning a degree. The Summit’s goal is to increase the social integration of men of color within the EOF community and on their respective campuses; including strengthening students’ sense of belonging, raising self-confidence, and encouraging academic and personal success.
EOF Professionals, please register yourself and your scholars here: 3rd Annual EOF Men of Color Initiative Leadership Summit
Location: Kean University || STEM Building
Date/Time: Thursday, March 28, 2024 || 9:00 am -3:30 pm
2nd Annual Interrupters Symposium
Friday, May 5, 2023
The 2nd Annual Interrupters Symposium returned to Mercer County Community College (MCCC) on May 5, 2023, welcoming EOF professionals to engage in interactive and passionate dialogue about the various challenges impacting men of color. The professional development workshop series preceded the Symposium. The traveling series allowed the MOCI to visit institutions across the state, offering in-person opportunities for professionals to gather and gain insight from speakers like Rachel Sawyer-Walker, Associate Director of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Compliance at Ramapo College of New Jersey, and EOF Alum and former professional basketball player, Dr. Reggie Wright. Recurring concerns emerged within these small group conversations: lack of mentorship, economic disparity, equity, mental health, imposter syndrome, and more.
The Symposium started with a welcome from Christine Millien and Terrence C. Harris from the EOFPANJ Executive Board. Both gave insight into the meaning and value of these critical conversations. Millien highlighted that the Men of Color and Women of Color Initiatives offered real and relevant information to all EOF professionals. Between the conversations and the connections made, the initiatives support the elevation and success of EOF scholars. Harris, who has spearheaded the initiative alongside fellow AESNJ representative Al-Lateef Farmer, focused on the importance of continued advocacy for the initiatives, as it creates a safe and brave space for EOF scholars and professionals to interact, learning that the deeper meaning of attaining a degree is to become a better person for one’s self first and the global community.
Two-time New York Times bestselling author, Frederick Joseph, began the day with the opening keynote offering a transparent and open conversation on addressing our scholars’ pains while amplifying its humanity. Joseph discussed that too often, we can find ourselves becoming numb to tragedy; however, it is necessary to address the realities of the world while simultaneously finding ways to enjoy the small moments. A shocking moment came when Joseph recalled being asked during a previous engagement how he managed to survive his past. “We were not taught to live; we were taught to survive,” Joseph said when speaking on his experience as a Black man. Opening the floor to the attendees, conversations flowed on the importance of EOF as a safe haven on college campuses, the need for more therapists and social workers, and a greater understanding that sometimes, “the work is not hard, college is.”
These conversations extended to the breakout sessions, which also incorporated the recurring concerns of the workshop series. Dr. Dynell Kellyman discussed her five-step strategy for success, which included learning to become comfortable with building connections and developing a tribe. Dr. Michael Hannon held a captivating conversation on the need for a commitment of faculty and staff to support the emotional well-being of men of color. Spoken word poet Oliver W. Colbert performed a moving poem dedicated to his newborn son. He spoke on his struggles as a Black man and how we create a healthier culture that children like his son can live in. Through the simulation of a barbershop, Mr. Horace Glen Jordan, Mr. Clinton Miller, and Mr. Derek Peters discussed the level of vulnerability and trust shared at the barbershop and how it can be recreated within offices EOF advisors.
The powerful day came to a close with the highly anticipated keynote by one of the nation’s most prominent scholars, a political commentator, and passionate educator, Dr. Eddie Glaude Jr. Dr. Glaude commented on several issues plaguing the country today like racial injustice, political instability, and erasure of history, before diving in deeper to address questions raised by the audience. As a history lover, he spoke on the importance of educating scholars on the history of EOF and the events that led to its creation, stating, “Who and what you choose to leave out of your story shows your perception of justice.” Glaude defined the meaning that knowledge as power, explaining that it is necessary to understand the past to ensure that those currently enduring pain do not become those who inflict it. Although this marked the end of the Symposium, it ignited a new flame for the future of the MOCI.
Annual Black, Brown, and College Bound National Conference
March 1-4, 2023
The EOF Men of Color Initiative, through EOFPANJ, sponsored EOF scholars and professionals to attend the 16th Annual Black, Brown, and College Bound (BBCB) National Conference in Tampa, FL, from March 1 - 4, 2023.
Each year, the BBCB conference attracts thousands of participants from across the country. Eddie Glaude Jr., an esteemed professor at Princeton University, and Jay Ellis, actor, writer, and producer, served as keynote speakers this year.
Attending the conference allowed participants to hear from exciting speakers, learn valuable life-long lessons through breakout sessions, and network with peers nationwide. This year’s conference addressed the barriers affecting male-identifying scholars' persistence, retention, and degree completion.
EOF scholars in attendance were appreciative of the opportunity to attend the conference. The EOF Men of Color Initiative will like to thank all EOF scholars in attendance and the EOF professionals that served as chaperones on this trip. The EOF Men of Color Initiative will provide future opportunities for EOF scholars to attend national conferences.
2nd Annual MOCI Student Leadership Summit
February 24, 2023
The Statewide EOF Men of Color Initiative (EOFMOCI) held our 2nd annual Student Leadership Summit at Kean University on February 24, 2023. This year’s summit was titled “Letting them Know Who We Are,” centering on purpose, a sense of belonging, Grit, and confidence. The EOFMOCI coordinators, Mr. Al-Lateef Farmer, Mr. Terrence C. Harris, and Dr. Andre Turner, carefully selected speakers and presenters with that theme in mind. This year’s summit goals were to assist attendees in developing their "why" or purpose, increase their confidence, increase their sense of belonging in higher education, promote academic success, and be more connected to their EOF programs.
The summit opened with words from Dr. Mensah Peterson, Associate Vice President for Advising, Persistence, and Success at Kean University. Dr. Peterson promoted Grit and hard work by encouraging attendees to "invest" in themselves. Dr. Peterson shared what he calls “Doc. P’s 3 Keys to Success”, which advocates adding personal value or "stock." The keynote speaker, Mr. Jenabu Williams, Vice Principal at the Essex County Vocational Schools, used his storytelling skills and ability to motivate adolescents to inspire all those in attendance to challenge themselves for more. Mr. Williams used his own story and personal challenges as a student and in life, as he talked about his "why" factor and how he used his support networks to accomplish what he has so far. He discussed being "plugged into your support system," challenging students to better connect with their EOF programs, and asking for help when needed. Our closing speaker, Dr. Gabriel Marshall, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oswego and former Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) counselor, discussed his five W's (Who, What, When, Where, Why) in personal development and growth. Dr. Marshall used storytelling with elements of humor to reach attendees' hearts as he promoted self-awareness and reflection, accountability, grit, and resiliency. Throughout his professional tenure, Dr. Marshall has supported countless students of color through their academic journey.
Presenters and workshop topics were meticulously selected based on the theme of the summit and EOFMOCI’s mission. Sessions included; financial literacy, presented by Mr. Keith Davenport, MMBB Financial Services; finding purpose, presented by Mr. Terrence Jones, Jones Gold Training & Consulting; mental health awareness, presented by Dr. DeVante Cunningham Ph.D.; and growth and purposeful futures, presented by Ms. Nia Daniel, Partners for Kids and Families.
This year, as EOFMOCI continues to grow and have a higher impact on EOF students statewide, we were able to increase attendance from last year's summit. Registered participants reached over 200 individuals, with a record number of institutions represented at the summit this year. This year's summit demonstrated a positive response that this initiative is needed, and the students and professionals of EOF want it. The EOF Men of Color Initiative looks forward to next year's leadership summit.
Statewide Men of Color Initiative
Men of Color Initiative Wellness Retreat
April 28-30, 2023
April 28-30, 2023
From Friday, April 28th to Sunday, April 30th, 43 male-identifying students of color representing ten colleges and universities across the state came together at Camp Bernie in Port Murray, NJ. Facilitated by EOF professionals and community partners, the students participated in a transformative event - the network’s first Men of Color Initiative (MOCI) retreat. Despite inclement weather, these men made the most of the weekend, engaging in critical conversations about their unique challenges in higher education.
Camp Bernie provided the brothers with a tranquil environment, away from the bustle of academic life. This setting allowed for an enriching journey of introspection, understanding, and personal growth. It fostered open and heartfelt dialogues about the students’ hopes and dreams.
The workshops and discussions at the retreat were insightful and drove home the importance of addressing these often-overlooked issues. The EOF professionals who chaperoned the event witnessed the cathartic release these students experienced in sharing personal narratives and listening to the stories of their peers, validating their shared struggles.
In addition to individual and group discussions, various activities were integral to the retreat. Facilitators conducted team-building exercises, and physical and emotional wellness workshops, promoting balance and resilience. These activities provided the students with practical tools for managing stress and caring for their mental health - skills they could apply on their campuses.
One of the most rewarding aspects of this experience was the sense of brotherhood and unity that developed among the participants. Despite their diverse college journeys, a profound sense of community and mutual respect emerged. This sense of solidarity forged at Camp Bernie is a testament to the power of shared experiences. It will provide an enduring source of support for these men as they continue on their paths to college completion.
In retrospect, the Men of Color Wellness Retreat at Camp Bernie was not just a weekend in the woods but a seminal journey of self-discovery, growth, and fraternity. It served as a reminder of the importance of well-being and provided EOF students with essential tools and a supportive community beyond their campuses. As the students returned to their colleges, they were re-energized, equipped with strategies to navigate their unique challenges, and fortified with a newfound sense of community to lean on. Witnessing their transformation was a deeply rewarding experience.
1st Annual MOCI Student Leadership Summit
March 25, 2022
On March 25, 2022, the EOF Statewide Men of Color Initiative held its inaugural Leadership Summit on the campus of Montclair State University. The EOF Statewide Men of Color Initiative, founded in 2021, has the mission to increase admittance, retention, graduation, engagement, and overall success of minority males in NJ’s EOF programs by addressing various academic and social challenges through academic engagement, mentoring peer connection, and professional preparation.
The Summit, titled “Rewriting the Narrative,” focused on reversing the increasing rates of minority males separating from college before earning a degree. The Summit’s goal was to increase the social integration of men of color within the EOF community and on their respective campuses; including strengthening students’ sense of belonging, raising self-confidence, and encouraging academic and personal success.
The student participants were inspired by the keynote address by Montclair State EOF graduate Mike Spence, whose message was about overcoming obstacles and being resilient in life. Mr. Spence described the obstacles he faced while earning his degree. He spoke intensely to the students about what he describes as “time to eat,” meaning moments where individuals “must step up” and “do what they have to do to be successful” not only for themselves but also as leaders and role models for those who look up to them.
Students participated in an engaging workshop series conducted by EOF professionals, Mr. Enrique Noguera, EOF Director at Passaic County College, and Dr. Reggie Walker, EOP Director at Rider University. The workshops titled “Hip-Hop and Masculinity” and “Removing the Mask: Showing My True Self” asked participants to challenge themselves and take an in-depth exploration of self-awareness. The goal was to recognize the importance of being able to identify moments in which they could use vulnerability and community to create safe spaces of empowerment. As well as, challenging and removing barriers in masculinity that promote healthy expressions of strength, vulnerability, service and love.
Sixteen New Jersey EOF programs were represented at the Summit, totaling over 150 student participants and over 30 EOF professionals.