On Sept. 22, student participants in the African American Male Scholars (AAMS) Initiative were officially welcomed into its program by the Cross Cultural Center (CCC) staff and AAMS mentors. During the welcome session, CCC staff and stakeholders presented the expectations of AAMS participants and detailed the various components of the Initiative.
Attorney and Saint Louis University School of Law alumnus William Dailey Jr. gave a powerful keynote address to students titled "The Importance of the African-American College Student to the Black Community." Students then took the AAMS pledge that centered on the five tenets of AAMS student participation: scholarship, leadership, brotherhood, community and excellence.
All AAMS participants are required to maintain high scholastic achievement, serve as leaders within the campus and surrounding community and uplift each other within the program.
During the welcome session, students were also assigned and paired with their faculty, staff and/or alumni mentors. The mentoring relationship will sustain throughout, and hopefully beyond, the student's academic career at SLU.
"AAMS is an excellent addition to the Saint Louis University community because it provides students, staff and faculty an opportunity to develop meaningful relationships," said Keon Gilbert, Dr.P.H., assistant professor in the School of Public Health and AAMS faculty mentor. "What I expect to develop from these relationships among black men is a sense of trust, caring, social responsibility and academic rigor that crosses multiple generations and disciplines."
Following the session, six AAMS students were selected to attend a private reception with renowned rapper, author and actor Common after the artist's keynote speech to the campus community. The selections were based on a competition where participants were asked to write about a person in their lives who best exemplify the five tenets of AAMS.
The Great Issues Committee sponsored the speaker and collaborated with the CCC to allow this opportunity for AAMS students and mentors.
"Common's presence alone was inspiring to me," explained Tavon Wilson, sophomore AAMS student participant. "I am grateful to be a part of AAMS and that the GIC provided our group the opportunity to meet him."
Nearly 40 students and mentors are a part of the AAMS Initiative. Students are still expressing interest for involvement in AAMS, therefore, the Cross Cultural Center staff will accept new student participants for this academic year until Oct. 20. Several benefits for student-participants include an assigned SLU-affiliate mentor, academic success workshops, social and community engagement experiences, and networking opportunities.
The AAMS Initiative is open to all African-American male undergraduates, with a specific focus on freshmen and sophomores. To learn more about AAMS involvement opportunities or to recommend a student, please contact CCC staff member Bryan Weaver at email@example.com.
Photo: Hip-hop artist Common reads a collection of the essays written by the AAMS Initiative student participants. Six students got the chance to meet Common on Sept. 23, following his address at the Busch Student Center. Photo by Michael Jones