The University of New Orleans held a kickoff celebration on April 19 for a new initiative focused on improving student success of African-American males. Known as MoMENtum, the initiative includes workshops on leadership and life skills, and pairs current students with a faculty or staff mentor who will provide support and guidance for the students. The effort is spearheaded by Kim Williams, professor and director of the Lester E. Kabacoff School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration, and Nora Chapuis, director of Student Support Services.
During the ceremony, the first nine student participants were presented with a gift bag that included a MoMENtum t-shirt, a UNO tie and a certificate of participation which, organizers say, will be replaced by their degrees when they graduate.
“Look around you,” Williams said to the students. “This is your support network. All of these faculty, staff and administrators are here for you, to make sure that you succeed.”
The students recited an oath in which they pledged to give their best academic effort, present themselves in a positive manner, and strive to learn, achieve and inspire.
MoMENtum is one of a series of new student enrollment and retention initiatives undertaken since UNO President John Nicklow arrived on campus last year as the University’s then provost. During a 2015 retreat, a large group of faculty and staff analyzed student enrollment data and identified African-American males and first-generation students as two groups that could benefit from additional support.
“The faculty and staff of the University share President Nicklow’s commitment to increasing our retention and graduation rates among African-American males,” Williams said. “It is our hope that this initiative will help these students obtain their degrees, become leaders on campus and in their community, and serve as an inspiration to those they encounter.”
The students and their mentors are:
• Student: Elliot Alexander Jr.; mentor: Warren Davis, associate vice president for
• Student: Dorian Collins; mentor: Zarus Watson, associate professor of education
• Student: Donté Domingue; mentor: Taryn Chevis, director of operations, Office of Enrollment Services
• Student: Monquel Hawkins; mentor: Cherie Trumbach, associate professor of management
• Student: Jeremiah Joseph; mentor: Elyria Kemp, associate professor of marketing
• Student: Xakendal Taylor; mentor: Yvette Green, associate professor of hotel, restaurant and tourism administration
• Student: Kenneth Terry II; mentor: Warren Davis, associate vice president for facility services
• Student: Cordell Williams; mentor: Kim Williams, professor of hotel, restaurant and tourism administration
• Student: Dylan Wilson; mentor: Joseph Beams, professor of accounting