GHC has the highest retention rate among African American males of any state college in the USG, thanks to years of work from faculty and students.
11 years ago, Dean of Academic Humanities and professor of English, Jon Hershey, attended a meeting held in Atlanta. Hershey was concerned about the low college retention rates among men of color.
“Things were bad at GHC also around the state, around the country,” Hershey said.
The meeting in Atlanta marked the beginning of Brother 2 Brother and other initiatives to raise retention rates among the men of color at GHC.
Hershey said that starting these initiatives was a struggle the first year — the original B2B only had seven members. Over time, the organization gained traction. Brother 2 brother has seen rapid growth and now boasts a 96 percent retention rate.
The program has launched several other initiatives, such as Georgia Highlands African American and Minority men Excellence (GHAME) and a summer camp for boys of color called Foundation Camp.
“To me GHAME is an initiative that is solely dedicated to raising retention rates among men of color,” said Evan Snellings, co-director of Foundation Camp and former B2B member. “This semester in particular we’re placing an emphasis on academic progress.”
The club’s other initiative, Foundation Camp, caters to young men of color. B2B members who display good leadership skills are hired at the camp as a reward.
The two-week camp isn’t entirely made up of play time. “I make sure there is a balance between academics and nonacademics,” said Snellings.
The campers get to learn about robotics and engage in games such as kickball. Snelling also wants the boys to know that college is within their reach and wants them to bond with their older mentors. He wants to eliminate any potential misconceptions the boys would develop about their college-aged counselors.
Snelling also spoke about B2B’s partnership with the organization, 100 Black Men, which sponsors both the club and the camp.
“100 Black Men has been essential,” Snellings said. “They will always have members available for disciplinary actions.” “
I will just say GHAME is in its tenth year at GHC. I think we are extremely grateful for the opportunity to address a problem,” said Snellings. “Our biggest thing is changing narratives.”