Georgia Highlands College

Student African-American Brotherhood Names GHC Chapter of the Year

A team of Georgia Highlands College students representing the GHC chapter of Brother2Brother, an organization that promotes the education and success of young black and Latino men, received the Chapter of the Year Award at the national conference of the Student African-American Brotherhood, the parent organization for B2B. The conference hosted a number of chapters from the more than 260 SAAB and B2B groups at colleges around the country during the annual event held in Indianapolis.

GHC won the award for its growth in membership, dramatic retention and graduation results, and for creating a multi-campus model for GHC's initiative. The Georgia Highlands program to increase this cohort and help its students succeed is called GHAME, the Georgia Highlands African-American and Minority Male Excellence program. It is part of the University System of Georgia's African-American Male Initiative.

GHC's GHAME program began in 2008 with seven students on the Floyd campus. It now boasts 110 members on all its campuses and sites. Retention and graduation rates among minority male students, which have been steadily declining over the past decade, have shown marked increases at GHC since the program started. The numbers show improvement again from fall 2010 to fall 2011: the overall retention for students was 47 percent; the institution retained all male students at a 45 percent rate; but for members of B2B, the rate was 79 percent. And that rate between fall 2011 and spring 2012 grew to 87 percent.

Two-year colleges traditionally have fairly low graduation rates due to a variety of reasons - transfer to four-year institutions before graduation, drop-outs, or students coming in and out of the system sporadically because of jobs or family or financial conditions. But looking at the 2010/2011 rate, 36 percent of B2B members graduated. The graduation rate for all students was 10 percent.

The program has won awards and grants from the University System of Georgia for its dramatic success. Jon Hershey, dean of the Humanities Division, directs the program with advisory help from Kirk Nooks, campus dean of GHC-Marietta, and Ken Reaves, campus dean of GHC-Douglasville. The 100 Black Men of Rome and Northwest Georgia also contribute their time and mentoring skills. Hershey said, "Our results are proof of the positive impact that mentoring can have on first-generation college students--and this includes peer mentoring. The students in Brother 2 Brother are dedicated to the concept that they are their brothers' keepers."

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