In 2022, Montclair State University launched the Male Enrollment and Graduation Alliance (MEGA), a task force composed of faculty and staff, charged with examining and developing a plan of action to improve male student outcomes with a focus on Hispanic/Latino and Black males. MEGA will examine the “from prospect to active alumnus” pipeline to understand how best to recruit, enroll, retain and graduate Black and Hispanic males.
Dr. Daniel Jean ’00 MA, Assistant Provost for Special Programs, EOF and Academic Success, shares the story of one young man which tragically underscores the urgency of this work.
Robert Daniel Cuadra of Paterson, NJ, was a Harp Academy senior set to graduate from high school this past spring.
In January, he received an acceptance letter to continue his education as an Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) scholar at Montclair State University, but unfortunately he was never able to attend our Welcome Day, move on to campus for our Summer Academy, and begin his path to graduation.
Robert, just 18, was murdered on January 19 while unloading groceries outside his home on Godwin Ave. At his wake, the high school cap and gown he was never able to wear was draped with his Upward Bound sash as it hung next to his guitar.
Ask any urban teen if they know someone personally who has been a victim of violence, and nearly all of them will say “yes”. As a teen growing up in Newark, I also lost my best friend, Almumin White, to street violence.
Access to high-quality higher education is perhaps the strongest path towards reversing this poisonous culture, but today, the success of males in college lags behind their female counterparts – with “cis” and “identified” Black and Hispanic/Latino male outcomes the most concerning.
The overall enrollment nationwide at Title IV institutions (schools that process Federal Financial Aid) is 8% Hispanic males and 5% Black males. The four-year graduation rate for females is at 51%, males at 41%, Hispanic males at just 32% and Black males at just 21%. The six-year graduation rate continues to amplify the gaps, with females at 67%, all males at 60%, Hispanic males at 54% and Black males at a dismal 39%.
Dr. Carolina E. González, Assistant Dean for Administrative, External and Student Affairs in the College of Education and Human Services, and co-lead of MEGA commented recently in an article featured in Diverse Issues in Higher Education, “the nationwide drop in male enrollment is a ‘call to action,’ not just for higher education but for communities as a whole, to help potential students and scholars understand how a degree can benefit their present and future.”
MEGA Symposium – March 3, 2023
Several initiatives are in motion and the next major event is the MEGA Symposium to be held on Friday, March 3, 8:45 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., on the campus of Montclair State University. The event was developed to engage educators/administrators and thought leaders nationwide to share best practices, develop enrollment partnerships, pipelines and sustainable networks for future Black and Hispanic male success.
Two Montclair alumni will be honored, including Dr. Gemar Mills ’05, Chief Academic Officer and Executive Director at College Achieve Public Schools in Paterson. Also being honored, Gian Paul Gonzalez ’07, is the Founder of Hope + Future, an afterschool health and wellness program in Union City, and motivational speaker who worked with the New York Giants with his “All In” speech as they headed for their 2012 NFL Super Bowl win. Gonzalez also represented Montclair in The College Tour, a TV series streaming on Amazon Prime Video that helps students and families virtually visit colleges across the country.
The event will consist of two tracks. The Professional Track includes educators, administrators, superintendents, principals, school counselors, board members, social service agencies, higher ed professionals, elected officials, non-profits, corporate sponsors, philanthropists, faith-based groups, community organizers, media outlets. And the College/High School Track includes High School and College Scholars from Montclair State University, Statewide EOF Men of Color Collective, Barringer High School (Newark), Eagle Academy (Newark), and Community BelovED Charter School (Jersey City), Eastside High School (Paterson) and PTECH (Paterson).
The program will include a keynote address, breakouts, panel, think tanks, joint luncheon for both tracks and a commemorative photo. Light breakfast will also be served. There is no cost to participate. Registration is open and limited to 300 participants. Registration will close once capacity is met. Click here to learn more or register.
Past Work & Ongoing Work
On Wednesday, November 16, 2022, MEGA hosted over 300 Black and Hispanic high school males at the inaugural Future College Graduate Conference. Students from across the state engaged in sessions related to financing their college attendance, the power of mentorship, effective decision making and steps to forming a true brotherhood.
For current scholars, the Educational Opportunity Fund Program (EOF) has launched Barbershop.edu, a collective for all males to develop community, discuss roadblocks and create accountability groups to complete the road to graduation.
The inaugural MEGA taskforce is charged to examine and develop a plan of action to improve male student outcomes from prospects to active alumni status with a focus on Hispanic/Latinoand Black males. MEGA has three focus areas: Data Collection & Analysis, External/Internal Partnerships and Engagement/Awareness Activities. Dr. Jean states, “Ultimately, we will publish and present our findings in various venues and continue the community work to bring national awareness to this important initiative. Collectively, we will impact our communities, providing intentional support for the countless future college graduates who simply need meaningful experiences and support structures.”
Support the MEGA Program
You can help young scholars realize their full potential by making a donation to MEGA. Your support will fund critical MEGA programming, research, and student scholarships.
Dr. Daniel Jean ’00 MA serves as the Assistant Provost for Special Programs at Montclair State University with oversight of the Future College Graduate Academy, which includes the Educational Opportunity Fund Program (EOF).
Dr. Carolina E. González serves as the Assistant Dean for Administrative, External and Student Affairs at the College of Education and Human Services at Montclair State University, and also serves as co-lead of MEGA.