GCC Aims to Increase Graduation Rates with ‘Male Symposium,’ Mentoring Initiative

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gateway Community College today kicked off a college-wide initiative to try to increase the graduation rates of its male first-generation college students with a daylong “Male Symposium” aimed at helping participants overcome barriers to success and exposing them to real-life success stories.

The event, which was held at the college’s Long Wharf campus, was open to all male students, but particularly targeted minority males. Recent statistics show that over the past six years, 39 percent of male first-generation college students at Connecticut’s 12 community colleges graduated. The rates were even lower for minority males who were the first in their families to attend college.

The Male Symposium offered a day full of speakers to inspire the more than 70 students who participated and an opportunity to speak one-on-one with those speakers and other volunteers with a new college-wide male mentoring program designed to address the same issues.

Participants were welcomed by GCC President Dr. Dorsey L. Kendrick and listened to presentations by Dr. Duncan Harris, dean of students at Manchester Community College, and Rev. John Scott III of the Dixwell Avenue Congregational Church in New Haven who is also a “master” teacher at GCC, particularly in business law. Participants also heard success stories from a four-man panel that included two GCC alumni. The panel included: GCC alum Edwin Martinez Jr., who was just inducted into the GCC Foundation’s Hall of Fame; GCC alum Donnell Hilton, youth development program director at Children’s Community Programs of Connecticut; Kermit Carolina, principal at James Hillhouse High School in New Haven; and Miguel Peralta of Wesleyan University.

The event was co-chaired by Dr. James Boger, coordinator of GCC’s Center for Working Students, and Maribel Lopez, GCC’s associate registrar. It kicked off GCC’s new college-wide male mentoring Student Services initiative that has already trained 20 mentors to work with participating students.