The Black Male Initiative (BMI)
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Black Male Initiative is going into its 6th year this academic year. This distinguished program, which began Fall 2014, increases the fall-to-fall retention of black males on campus. For the 2018-2019 cohort, students who participated in the Black Male Initiative were retained at a higher rate (58.2% retention rate) than first-time full-time black male freshman who did not (55% retention rate). These young men also boasted an average GPA that was 14.8% percentage points higher than their first-time full-time black male freshman counterparts who did not participate in the program.
An essential part of the academic success of our program is the Black Male Initiative Success Central course that introduces black male students to the UCO culture, as well as helping them navigate our university in hopes that they will get the most out of the college experience. Freshman participants of our program are each given a mentor to help guide them through the hurdles that many black students face their first year at a higher education institution. Tutoring, campus involvement, leadership, and philanthropy, are just a few things our mentors push their mentees into engaging in on campus.
Student Spotlight: Christian Coleman
One of the biggest attributes to diversity retention is student involvement and engagement. The Black Male Initiative is constantly promoting the idea that students not only find their sense of belonging within our programs but that they go out and contribute to the university community as a whole. Many of our Black Male Initiative students take this mantra to heart and we’d like to highlight one in particular; Christian Coleman.
Christian Coleman is a sophomore who participated as a Black Male Initiative Mentee during the Fall 2018 cohort and now serves as a Black Male Initiative Fellow (or mentor). His passion for leadership and service learning evolved into him serving as a staple in Leaders for Tomorrow and as a UCO Student Ambassador. His ambition and the support that he received not only from the Black Male Initiative, but the Office of Diversity and Inclusion as a whole empowered him to step up. Now, he has the honor of serving as the vice president of UCOSA.
The Hispanic Success Initiative (HSI)
The Hispanic Success Initiative began Fall of 2015 and is a collaborative initiative between the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and UCO’s Latino Faculty and Staff Association. The purpose of the Hispanic Success Initiative is to promote a sense of belonging to the UCO and Oklahoma City community for students and impacts their academic success and career possibilities. This purpose is achieved through a variety of learning opportunities and experiences that foster development and exploration of identity and activities that cultivate connections within the UCO community. In particular, the Hispanic Success Initiative utilizes the Integrative Knowledge Portfolio Process (IKPP) to assist students in discovering their core capacities and strengths while they create relationships with other students and their faculty / staff mentors and learn about on-campus support programs.
Student Spotlight: Thalia Rodriguez
Thalia Rodriguez is an Oklahoma City native graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma in December with a bachelor’s in Political Science – International Relations and a minor in French. She is active with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion with involvement including the Hispanic Success Initiative, Diversity Round Table, and the Hispanic American Student Association just to name a few. Additionally, she has received the President’s Leadership Council Scholarship, is a Student Ambassador and a McNair Scholar. This past May, Thalia had the opportunity to study abroad in Uganda with UCO’s Leadership Central office. In her free time, she likes to spend time with her family, engage in riveting discussions, and binge watch Our Planet on Netflix.
The Native American Success Initiative (NASI)
During the 2017-18 academic year, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion partnered with Academic Affairs, the Native American Faculty and Staff Association, and several passionate professors to establish the Native American Success Initiative (NASI). The purpose of this Student Success Initiative is to bridge the gap of persistence for native students by finding solutions unique to the barriers faced by those who identify as indigenous. In this regard, the Native American Success Initiative has proven that it has the potential to make great change for young natives entering into college. Students who participated in the Native American Success Initiative were retained at a higher rate (73.3% retention rate) than first-time full-time native freshman who did not (61.0% retention rate).
Along with peer mentors and cohort classes, the program also provides enrichment to student participants while also exploring the impact that native and tribal culture may have on a student’s academic success. For many students, participation in the Native American Success Initiative has served as a stepping-stone to student leadership and further campus involvement.
Student Spotlight: Mickey Loveless, II
Mickey Loveless II, is a sophomore majoring in computer science. He is a part of the Citizen of Potawatomi Nation and was a NASI mentee during the 2018-2019 academic school year. Through his participation with NASI, Mickey was encouraged to take on leadership roles while creating a strong connection to his Native American culture. This summer he was selected to participate in the prestigious Potawatomi Leadership Program. This year, Mickey will serve as not only a mentor of the NASI program but as the President of the Native American Student Association as well.
The LGBTQ+ Success Initiative
Beginning this fall, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion has the honor of partnering with the LGBTQ+ Faculty and Staff Association and the Women’s Research Center in establishing the LGBTQ+ Success Initiative. The purpose of this initiative is to promote a sense of belonging while addressing the academic, social, and psychological needs of students who identify as LGBTQ+. These goals are accomplished through a wide range of intentionally designed and carefully coordinated co-curricular and social programs to help students transition to UCO’s campus and ultimately persist to graduation.
Meet Our Peer Mentors
Alaska Doolin is double majoring in Modern Language- French and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. She loves to play with her dogs and read. She chose to be a part of the LGBTQ+ Success Initiative because she thinks that having a friend to lean on can potentially help the mentees have a better college experience.
Andrew Hedges (He/him) is a Junior psychology Major who is also minoring in Women, Gender and Sexuality studies. Along with being a mentor for the LGBTQ+ Success Initiative, he is also a student researcher on Conversion Therapy in the United States.
Jacob Reavis is majoring in History while also minoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies. In addition to serving as a mentor to the LGBTQ+ Success Initiative, he also works as a student researcher and library assistant at the Women’s Research Center and BGLTQ+ Student Center.