Mentor program focuses on strength of spirit
Wingate University partnered with Union County Public Schools this year to teach juniors at Monroe and Forest Hills High School about going to college.
The program, Men of Valor, was made possible when Wingate University Success Coach Masoy Henry received a grant from North Carolina Independent College and Universities for member schools looking to set up any type of mentorship program with minory students.
Henry said that there are not many access or mentorship programs in Union County, so he wanted to reach out to the community and begin one.
“(We) wanted to work with gentlemen, primarily, since they seem to have the most challenges,” Henry said.
From February through March, 20 juniors participated in the free six-week program, attending workshops and programs Saturday. The students heard programs on why they should attend college, how to get into a college, how to pay for college, what there is to do on a college campus and how to transition to college and stay in college.
Henry noted that although many people may go to college, the retention rate is not high.
Of the 20 students, 18 graduated and all of them indicated an interest in attending a college or university. In order to graduate, students had to attend four of the six workshops. Henry said the two students who did not graduate had scheduling conflicts due to school athletics.
In addition to the workshops, students have access to tutors at Wingate University for any school subjects they struggle with. They also have monthly outings and fellowship time with mentors.
“The mentors were made up of male students of color from Wingate University,” Henry said.
Though he is not sure if the grant will be renewed, Henry would like to continue and expand the program.
Union County Superintendent Mary Ellis would also like to continue and expand the program. She said that they have partnered with Wingate University in many areas and the Men of Valor program is a “wonderful example.”
“I salute (Henry) and the young men at Wingate University that have partnered with us and we hope to continue the program next year and even grow it,” Ellis said.
Henry said the participants were very receptive and attentive during the program with no discipline problems or anything of that nature.
“I just had twenty gentlemen showing up and wanting to learn,” Henry said. According to their evaluations, all 18 students planned to attend college.
Henry said he named the program Men of Valor to illustrate the definition of valor, which is the strength and spirit to face and overcome obstacles. He said he hoped to make the participants aware that while there are many challenges, they can face and overcome then with the right attitude.
“(Henry has) done really good things with some of our young people about helping them make college choices and seeing that college is attainable,” Ellis said.