“When I would ask how to prepare for college, I would be told to consider woodshop or mechanics,” John Quinones told the crowd at the Maryland Male Students of Color Summit (MMSOC) on Oct. 5. Quinones was the keynote speaker at this year’s MMSOC, a gathering of students and faculty from all of the Maryland Community Colleges. About 200 students attended the summit on the Montgomery College’s Germantown Campus, which focused on increasing college and career success for male students of color in the state.
The ABC News correspondent and host of the show What Would You Do? started as a journalist in eighth grade for his school paper and was the main editor by 10th grade. “You don’t have to see the entire staircase to take your first step: the mission is not about grades, it’s about enhancing your lives.”
The nationwide high school graduation rate is 81.4 percent, but it is only 70.7 percent for African-American students and 75.2 percent for Hispanic students. These statistics are worst in areas with high-poverty schools, where more than 75 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals, a measure the federal government uses to determine poverty. In which 42 percent of black students were in these schools, and 38 percent of Hispanics. Carmen Poston Travis, student affairs operations director, added that Montgomery College is working very hard to try to bridge the gap.
You don’t have to see the entire staircase to take your first step: the mission is not about grades, it’s about enhancing your lives
“All of the VPs of student affairs across the Maryland community colleges wanted to work on closing the achievement gap, and through that, the summit was born,” said Dr. Benita Rashaw, student affairs initiative program manager at MC.
“Have fun and learn something,” was the welcoming message that resonated throughout that day. Students had the opportunity to attend three of the breakout sessions: Advancing Latino male achievement, Hip hop: Infusing social justice, The black identity crisis in the 21st century, Financial planning, and Credible, confident, cool: dressing and great grooming for your future success.
These sessions are not only educational, according to Rashaw. “The hope is that this is a good networking opportunity for these students to get that push in their academic year,” she said.
As he addressed the crowd, Montgomery College Acting President Stephen Cain reminded participants that this is a community effort: “You are surrounded by many people who want to help you succeed…. You are the leaders of tomorrow.”
Check out the MC Today about the Maryland Male Students of Color Summit 2018