Mentoring conference highlights possibilities

Published 12:01 am Thursday, April 6, 2023

SALISBURY — The group behind a pilot mentoring program designed to expand career prospects for male minority college students hosted a conference at Livingstone over the weekend. It was the first of its kind, but the organizers hope it won’t be the last.

Livingstone College is a member of North Carolina Independent College and Universities (NCICU), the group which initiated the iBelong Mentoring Program last year. The NCICU comprises 36 colleges and universities throughout the state.

“Among those schools, 12 are currently going through a pilot program,” said Marcel Anderson, the iBelong Male Mentoring Program project director. “We received some funding to implement a strategy designed to increase persistence, retention and graduation rates of minority male students on campus through pragmatic efforts to mentor, coach and to make forums available for students to explore various career opportunities.”

Livingstone College and Catawba College are two of the 12 colleges participating in the pilot program. The other colleges and universities include Brevard College, Campbell University, Davidson College, Elon University, Gardner-Webb University, Greensboro College, Guilford College, High Point University, North Carolina Wesleyan University and Queens University of Charlotte.

Each campus has coordinators and mentors who focus on the mentorship aspect.

“Once a month, if not twice, the mentoring cohorts at each institution have various workshops such as career research programs, campus meetings, capstone meetings, etiquette dinners,” Anderson said. “Barbershop talks have been one of our bigger events.”

Anderson estimated the program currently serves 125-150 students throughout the campuses around the state.

“It has been remarkable to see the advancement of the students and all those who are participating in this mentoring cohort,” Anderson said.

Last weekend’s event provided attendees an opportunity to explore workshops, break-out sessions and career expo opportunities within the confines of a safe environment.

Anderson pointed out that since schools had been doing things independently, the Salisbury event allowed those mentees to come together collectively in the same room.

“It’s the first time they are meeting other students who are a part of the same organization,” Anderson said.

The event was also designed to expand professional horizons, too.

“It provided a networking opportunity with companies and the young men who were able to give resumes and scout potential job opportunities,” Anderson said.

Attendees heard from featured numerous speakers in addition to panelist discussions. Speakers included Sharon Hill, a life coach, who spoke about professional etiquette and soft skills, as well as psychotherapist Warren Gene Hoskins who explored mental health and mindfulness.

The student-let panel discussion featured Livingstone College student Matthew Clinton, in addition to representatives of Davidson College, Elon University, Greensboro College and High Point University.