Business administration freshman Angel Rivas, originally from San Antonio, identifies as Latino and is a first generation college student. UTA’s diversity and business program motivated Rivas to pursue a college education, he said.
“A lot of people don’t think that men of color can do things in the world,” Rivas said. “We’re like a minority, I guess, for other people.”
After seeing posters and receiving emails from Multicultural Affairs, Rivas attended a Men of Distinction meeting in hopes of finding acceptance and belonging.
New to UTA this fall, Men of Distinction is a mentor program geared toward increasing retention rates among male students of color, said Xavier Myles, Multicultural Affairs graduate assistant.
Rivas said he has always searched for quality education and mentors to guide him, something his parents couldn’t attain, coming from another country.
The Office of Multicultural Affairs has sought out faculty and staff who identify as black and Latino to pair up with male students of color as mentors, said Multicultural Affairs director Melanie Johnson. One mentor can have up to three mentees and will build up a “family cluster.”
“From our research, we know that our men of color retain better when they’re connected to faculty and staff that look like them,” Johnson said.
Book stipends, study abroad scholarships, conferences and tutoring are a few incentives for Men of Distinction members, Johnson said.
Meetings will consist of several topics such as goal setting and creating expectations that reward students socially and academically, Myles said.
“If you decide to just go to class and go home, you’re not going to have fun, you’re not going to find your fit,” he said. “Once you step out of your comfort zone and join a different organization or take on different opportunities, you build this pride about your education, and that has a big effect on how you see yourself after college,” he said.
There are Men of Distinction members everywhere, he said. Men of Distinction’s mission serves to create a safe space, increase cultural knowledge and promote inclusivity.
Myles said he wants to see more men of color succeed and graduate. Men of Distinction aims to create a sense of belonging for students and increase civil awareness on campus.
The organization has a lot to offer, Rivas said. He encourages any man of color who doesn’t know about the organization to consider attending a meeting.
“Men of Distinction is going to help me a lot,” Rivas said. “I want to keep pursuing it and keep going to the meetings.”