Men of Excellence and Phenomenal Women meet and greet brings students of color together

Alexus Scott, Student Diversity Program Coordinator for the ODI, interacts with students during the Men of Excellence and Phenomenal Women Meet & Greet event on Aug. 25 in the RSC.

Over 70 students attended the Men of Excellence and Phenomenal Women meet and greet in the RSC Thursday evening. The room was filled with voices, laughter and music.

According to Quang Nguyen, assistant director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the group focuses its mission on students of color who are underrepresented at the university. Ngyuen said the group hopes to give students an outlet, to provide space for fellowship as well as networking with other students, faculty and staff.

“It shows that there is a need for our underrepresented students, just to have a safe space for them to be able to connect with campus and to be able to connect with other students who have like-minded values,” Nguyen said.

Noe Rocha, a sophomore majoring in aerospace engineering, said that he thinks he is going to stick around for the long run. He said he hopes (the group) helps him academically, and with connecting to resources.

Coming back from the pandemic, Nguyen said that he hopes to be able to bring students to conferences and help develop their leadership skills, communication and values.

“It is imperative to be able to develop holistically, personally and professionally, so we want to be able to provide a space for them that is not available to them oftentimes here,” Nguyen said.

Alexus Scott, the coordinator of student diversity programs at the ODI, said that they cover a variety of emotional, mental and financial topics.  She said that they have created these organizations to ensure that minority students get the support they need to thrive and be successful which might not always be available at a historically white institution. 

Gregory VanDyke, a senior majoring in criminal justice, said that he has been involved in Men of Excellence for four years and is glad to see the influx of freshmen joining the group.

“It’s an opportunity to meet new students who look like you (and) don’t look like you,” VanDyke said. “It’s a great way to kind of not only vent as a college student and get that brotherhood and that sisterhood that you are looking for but also to kind of gain those skills that you don’t really learn in the classroom.”

Donovan McClellan, a freshman majoring in psychology, said he is going to continue on with the group because it seems like a great program to be involved in.

“I really came today because I wanted to see people who look like me and people in the same situation as me,” McClellan said.

Amari Garner, a freshman majoring in pre-nursing, said that she looks forward to getting connected to a lot of important and good people who can help her through her years at the university.

“Being able to make those connections, we understand that the first week of classes can be very daunting for a lot of people,” Scott said.  “Moments like this allow them that opportunity to just relax, meet other people and just begin to build their community.”