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Santa Fe College program mentors African American students

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The graduation rate among African American men in college is decreasing. A program at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, however, is working to reverse those statistics.

The My Brother’s Keeper program seeks to make the transition to college life easier for African American males.

“When I first came here, there was always someone I could talk to,” said Santa Fe student and program ambassador Kelsey Simmons.

He said he now wants to return that mentorship to incoming students who need it.

The program, which started in 2006, originally paired students with staff members they could relate to, said program assistant Aminah Nichols. She said the Santa Fe program was a response to a national crisis of decreasing black graduation rates.

She said black males often start college with backgrounds that aren’t education-centered.

“I think that’s the largest challenge — it’s just trying to change their mindset, get them focused, kind of teaching them why the education is important, why they need to be here,” Nichols said.

Now that the program has expanded to about 600 students, My Brother’s Keeper is looking to involve members of the Gainesville community. The program is also planning on training more student mentors.

Student ambassador Julian Childers said the program’s motto is “Together we stand, but divided we become another statistic.”

Katherine Hahn wrote this story online.

About Matt Sheehan

Matt can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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