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African American Male Initiative aims for student success

Blacks and Native Americans are tied for the lowest post-secondary graduation rates, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The African-American Male Initiative (AAMI) hopes to change that.

Aimed at minority groups, the organization recently came to fruition at VSU, thanks to Dr. Tameka Hobbs, coordinator of AFAM studies on campus. Through her work, the program has begun this semester and has offered keynote events and conferences.

Most notable, however, is its hands-on, personal approach to increasing graduation rates among minorities.

Leafus Thomas, leader and student coordinator of the AAMI, said the organization “works to build a relationship with its members” and find “the strengths and weaknesses of the group members.”

“It’s more than just a tutoring session,” he said.

The AAMI’s main goal is to empower, support, and assist students in gaining an undergraduate degree in four years. However, it’s limited to six years depending on the major and class structure.

The AAMI’s value emphasizes personal responsibility inside and outside the classroom, according to the application form. It encourages young men to be leaders, not only to others but of themselves.

Members must attend weekly study halls where they are assisted with their coursework and set up to succeed. They must also attend at least one community service event per month, along with upholding other necessary expectations to show that they are dedicated to success.

Although AAMI at VSU is still a fledgling branch, the organization itself has long-standing roots marked by academic success and opportunity for male-minority youth.

The AAMI is a nationally recognized organization with a presence in 26 out of 29 Georgia universities. Its national mission is “increasing [students’] successful matriculation and graduation.”

Its leaders are looking forward to advancing the organization’s presence at VSU.

“We’ll hopefully expand in the next year and offer scholarships and things like that,” Thomas said.

On Monday, AAMI presented “A Conversation with M.K. Asante,” an author, filmmaker, recording artist and professor who spoke on his newest book, Buck: A Memoir.

The book focuses on his difficult and transformative youth in Philadelphia and has been described by renowned African-American poet Maya Angelou as being “a story of surviving and thriving with passion, compassion, wit, and style.” The AAMI used this event to inspire its patrons as well as other students.

If you are interested in joining or learning more about the opportunities that the AAMI offers minority scholars, search under “African American Studies” at MyVSU and email Dr. Hobbs at tbhobbs@valdosta.edu.

You can also stop by the African American Studies department in Nevins, room 1107.

Written by Patrick Barry, Staff Writer.

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