A team of Georgia Highlands College students representing the school's chapter of Brother2Brother last week received the Chapter of the Year Award at the annual national conference of the Student African-American Brotherhood held in Indianapolis. The conference hosted a number of chapters from the more than 260 SAAB and B2B groups at colleges around the country.
Jon Hershey, dean of the humanities division, directs the program with advisory help from Kirk Nooks, campus dean of GHC-Marietta, and Ken Reaves, campus dean of GHC-Douglasville.
"Our results are proof of the positive impact that mentoring can have on first-generation college students -- and this includes peer mentoring," Hershey said in a press release. "The students in Brother2Brother are dedicated to the concept that they are their brothers' keepers."
According to the release, "GHC won the award for its growth in membership, dramatic retention and graduation results, and for creating a multi-campus model for GHC's initiative. The Georgia Highlands program to increase this cohort and help its students succeed is called GHAME, the Georgia Highlands African-American and Minority Male Excellence program. It is part of the University System of Georgia's African-American Male Initiative."
Chris Carter, 20, is the president of Brother2Brother on the Cartersville campus and is responsible for organizing meetings and helping to make sure members are on track academically.
He previously told The Daily Tribune News the program has helped provide motivation to continue his academic career.
"One thing [Brother2Brother] has done for me, it has motivated me to study more," Carter said. "It has given me a greater reason to get through school because when you're involved in something it makes it a lot easier to get through school. Plus, we have a great network of people within the organization to encourage each other and help each other ... It has really enhanced my outlook as far as going through college and the whole college experience in general."
GHC's GHAME program began in 2008 with seven students on the Floyd campus, now boasting 110 members on all its campuses and sites. Retention and graduation rates among minority male students, which have been steadily declining over the past decade, have shown marked increases at GHC since the program started.
According to GHC, "The numbers show improvement again from fall 2010 to fall 2011: the overall retention for students was 47 percent; the institution retained all male students at a 45 percent rate; but for members of B2B, the rate was 79 percent. And that rate between fall 2011 and spring 2012 grew to 87 percent."
Hershey said two-year colleges traditionally have fairly low graduation rates due to a variety of reasons, which can include transfers to four-year institutions before graduation, drop-outs, or students coming in and out of the system sporadically because of jobs or family or financial conditions.
However, according to GHC's 2010-2011 graduation rate, 36 percent of B2B members graduated. The graduation rate for all students was 10 percent.
The program has won awards and grants from the University System of Georgia for its dramatic success. The 100 Black Men of Rome and Northwest Georgia also contribute their time and mentoring skills to the program.