A program at Prince George’s Community College is helping men of color graduate community college and go on to four-year institutions by meeting them where they are and helping them find their passion and purpose through mentorship, resources and support.
"In 2009 we realized that Black and brown men were going to college at higher numbers but they weren't staying in," Brian Hamlin, the program manager of the Diverse Male Student Initiative, said. "They were not being retained. They were dropping out.”
Hamlin has managed the DMSI program since its creation in 2009. In the years that have followed, the program has retained and graduated some 2,000 students.
Get D.C. area news, weather forecasts and lifestyle content to your inbox. Signup for NBC Washington newsletters.
“Sometimes when you leave high school, you’re not sure about your career path. You’re not sure of all the things you want to do, so those two years of getting your associate's degree become very important,” Hamlin said.
The initiative’s success stories include a young man named Golden Daka, who graduated from the DMSI and later became the valedictorian of Morehouse College.
"We have a partnership with Morehouse. We wanted the students that were going to Prince George’s and were in DMSI to have a pipeline to one of the most prestigious schools in the world for men of color, that being Morehouse College, an HBCU down there in Atlanta,” Hamlin said.
James Reid is a DMSI student who will study engineering as a junior at the University of Maryland next year. First, he will graduate from Prince George's Community College with a 3.9 GPA, debt-free and with a scholarship.
Reid remembered "the encouragement that was involved in the DMSI program, the conversations that we had when we talked about real issues that affected all our communities and we were also able to share our experiences.”
In one of the initiative’s last classes there were 14 graduates. The program was able to secure more than $250,000 in scholarship money for those students to continue their education, according to Hamlin.
To find out more information, including applications for the DMSI, go here.
“We're not just helping them academically, we’re not just helping them mentally and emotionally, we are helping them financially to get a strong foundation,” he said.