Prairie State College event offers mentoring for minority young men

By David Pollard For Chronicle Media

A member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Theta Mu Lambda Chapter, show male youth how to properly tie a necktie at 11th Annual Ties That Bind male mentoring and networking event at Prairie State College. (Photo by David Pollard)

Mentoring was in full effect at Prairie State College with a local fraternal organization reaching out to the minority male population in the school and surrounding community.

The college in conjunction with members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Theta Mu Lambda Chapter, had the 11th Annual The Ties That Bind on March 2 at the college, which is part of the college’s Male Success Initiative.

The mentoring and networking event paired students with members of the fraternity to share career and life experiences with the young men.

William Berkley, coordinator of the Male Success Initiative, which is the school’s mentoring program, said the event gives minority male students a chance to see what they can become.

“They (students) can meet professionals and find out about what they do and talk to them about their careers and ask them about the choices they’ve made in life,” he said. “It lets them know what an education can do for you.”

For Joshua Rawls, 23, who is a student at Prairie State College, he understands the value of getting an education although most of his peers do not see the value in it.

“Most of my peers believe because of the way things are it isn’t worth trying to do better, so they just want to enjoy life while they can,” he said. “They just want to enjoy life for as long as they can.”

But Rawls said he wants something better and that’s what brought him out to Thursday’s event.

“Not too many of our youth are looking toward building,” he said. “I don’t share that perspective but most of them do.”

Young men from the community and students at Prairie State College look over ties given to them by members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Theta Mu Lambda Chapter. Men from the fraternity participated in the college’s Ties That Bind minority male mentoring event at the college on Feb. 2, where they networked and interacted with the young men and showed the younger men how to tie a necktie. (Photo by David Pollard)

During the three-hour event students were able to ask questions to members of the fraternity who had careers in law, technology, business/entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering and other fields.

“Terrance Baker, 41, an attorney, said he hopes he was able to impart some helpful advice to some of the students.

“I enjoyed the opportunity to get engaged with the young men,” he said.

George Reaves and other members of the fraternity talked to young men about the banking and finance industry and stressed the importance of hard work and achieving one’s goals.

“Work hard and don’t just stop when you are tired of what you are doing but when you think you are tired take a 10- or 15-minute break then go back to it again,” he said.

Robert McMiller, a retired education administrator, urged Freddie Tremble, 22, and Jason Harper, 19, who are students at Governor State University, to make sure they stay focused on their education and graduate no matter what.

“Once you get that nobody can take it away from you,” McMiller said.

Harper, who wants to be a television broadcaster, appreciated the encouragement.

“They were very knowledgeable,” he said. “They gave us incentive to gain more knowledge in the future.”

Kelvin Smith, who owns his own healthcare business, encouraged the students who wanted to know about becoming entrepreneurs, that they shouldn’t be afraid to fail, but make sure to do the research before starting your own business.

“Don’t be afraid to fail,” he said. “You fail, that’s fine, because you just learned what not to do.”

Terrance Baker (left) an attorney and member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Theta Mu Lambda Chapter, talks with a student at Prairie State College’s 11th Annul Ties That Bind networking event for males of color. The idea of the event was to pair minority male students with established minority males to give advice and share experiences. (Photo by David Pollard

Prior to the end of the event the young men chose neckties that the fraternity members had provided for them and showed them how to tie them.

Donte Harris, 17, who chose a black-and-red necktie had a little trouble getting the hand of tying one, but quickly got the hang of it. He also enjoyed the fellowship and knowledge he had gained from the experience.

“It was good to meet some people in the field I want to pursue,” he said. “It was a pretty good experience.”





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