The African American community has come a long way and still has more yet to go. The healing process has just begun for African Americans with the inspirational election of the nation’s first black family in the White House. The celebration of Black History this month is another reminder that there is still work to be done. Focusing attention on continuous improvement through education will help to continue that advancement. Thankfully, most universities have made mentor programs available that are making an impact and can provide a positive learning environment.
According to a study done by Ohio University’s Center for Higher Education, mentoring is clearly stated as “an effective practice for most college students; more recently, mentoring has been deemed crucial for African American and Hispanic students who attend predominantly White institutions”. The study continues to stress the “national need” to continue to study the effectiveness of these mentoring programs within colleges. Further illustrating this need, the study continues on to say that “In 2002, Black men comprised only 4.3 percent of students enrolled at institutions of higher education, the exact same percentage as in 1976”. However, recent gains have been made through participation in college sports and the achievements of African American women. The study shows that “mentoring primarily aided the success of women of color who attended a PWI(primarily white institutions), by providing academic and social support” and that “more Black women enroll in college resulting in less than half of the total number of Black college students being male”.
In a brief essay written by a doctoral student at Indiana University, she discusses the clear and positive relationship of mentoring and collegiate success. Marybeth Gasman states, “when adapted to historically underrepresented groups in the college setting, mentoring is thought to transmit skills, values, and attitudes, as well as to provide a positive link to the institution”. She continues to cite the difficulties African Americans face when entering college and the challenges of social integration and prejudice. Many colleges have instituted mentoring programs that address these challenges and the challenges of the institutions themselves. She goes on to reiterate that “mentoring programs give students the impression that faculty, staff, and administration care about their needs.”