The Educated Mentor: Volume 1, Issue 4 (Spring 2021)

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OPERATION G.R.A.D, INCORPORATED Moving Beyond Initiatives Operation G.R.A.D, Incorporated is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization whose purpose is to help collegiate African-American males graduate with a college degree. With mentoring as the foundational approach, we challenge and support students as they achieve goals initially set.


Guided by the core values of commitment, community, education, diversity, and integrity , Operation G.R.A.D is dedicated to providing a holistic student-centered experience that prepares students for opportunities during and post college. For questions, or to learn more about our organization, please contact us at



Protect The Legacy. In 2016, our co-founder and CEO began a journey that would soon turn into a transformative experience. His experience in the field of higher education revealed to him that there was an unmet need and he was determined to address it. Four years later, he and co-founder Jamie Enge have expanded their passion [mentoring] into a life changing opportunity for Black males across the country. Like many great non-profit organizations, its success comes from strong and dedicated supporters like YOU! Your contributions thus far have helped us accomplish many milestones, and for that we are grateful. However, this is only the beginning. As Operation G.R.A.D, Inc. continues to affect change in the nation, we are going to need your continuous support. Help advance the mission and vision of the organization by making a recurring monthly donation. Whether $5, $10, or $20 a month, you are setting a wonderful example for others of helping to protect the legacy of Operation G.R.A.D, Inc. If you are already a recurring donor, thank you. If you would like to become a recurring donor visit our website to begin your journey today.

Operation G.R.A.D, Incorporated is classified by the IRS as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Any monies donated to the organization is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Our Federal Tax ID is 84-4956308. If you have any questions regarding our tax-exempt status, please contact us at



A Beacon of Hope


A year ago, we realized everything was about constant change, including all aspects of the higher education experience. It was the beginning of something different more than a single event but a cascade of decisions, frustrations, and headlines. Mental health issues escalated with our young people experiencing isolation from campus activities, in-person instruction, and peer-to-peer support. The COVID-19 pandemic serves as a determinant in students' educational proceedings across the nation. The pandemic's heavy impact is still felt in the higher education sector, even with remote education implementation. As a result, many students are struggling with reduced student success and community resources. Amid the chaos, there is a need for courageous conversations that catalyze change in education. As founders of a nonprofit organization, it is paramount for us to consider the risks involved in COVID-19 and its effects on college enrollment and persistence. Although we are aware of the risks, Operation G.R.A.D, Inc. has continued supporting Black males as they resiliently pursue their college completion aspirations. Yes, these are challenging times, but because of it there are bright spots, wins, and stories within Operation G.R.A.D, which aims to add some much-needed light to the world. Here are some beacons of hope from us to you: 1. January is National Mentoring Month. Mentorship is the foundation and strategy of Operation G.R.A.D, and in honor of it, we acknowledged mentors via social media about their impact on our lives. This created an opportunity for us alongside Gregory Dendy to celebrate and elevate an "unfiltered" conversation about mentorship on the Clubhouse app; 2. On February 1 – 5, 2021, we celebrated our first Founder's week where we engaged friends, supporters, and others in a variety of events; and last but not least, 3. February 2021 marks one year for Operation G.R.A.D., Inc., and it has been quite the journey. We have had a handful of frustrations and a ton of learning and progression.

VOLUME 1, ISSUE 4 CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Dr. Darryl Hylton, Jr. CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER Jamie L. Enge JOURNAL EDITOR Dr. Darryl Hylton, Jr. CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Jamie Enge Dr. Darryl Hylton Christian Kornegay Tylik McMillan Dominique Moody Traneil Moore Emmanuel Okosisi Dr. Gabe Willis Lynn Wilson

The Educated Mentor is the official publication of Operation G.R.A.D, Incorporated published four times a year. For any questions or feedback regarding the publication, please contact us at

This is to be applauded and celebrated but the work is not done. Operation G.R.A.D, Inc. is making solid strides towards establishing our inaugural chapter. While every journey is different, it is because of compassionate supporters like you that we can serve collegiate Black men towards completing a college degree. In Mentorship,

Dr. Darryl Hylton, Jr. Jamie L. Enge

Dr. Darryl Hylton, Jr. & Jamie L. Enge Co-Founders

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volume 1, issue 4

featured articles

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Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan

We Make it To College, but at What Cost?



06 National News

12 The Mentor Spotlight

Get the latest information from the National Office

08 Amplified Students share their perspective on the state of the Educated Black man

Recognizing Trailblazer, Dr. Gabe Willis

18 Dear Brother, Receive a Word of Empowerment from Tylik McMillan

26 Philanthropy At-A-Glance An overview of our philanthropy from Quarter 3

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The Educated Mentor


National News A Successful Founder's Week! During the first week of February, we kicked off Black History Month with our inaugural Founder's Week. It was nothing short of success. We engaged in multiple activities and events that stimulated our minds and entertained our souls. Our first event was State of the Educated Black Man. With over 500+ views on Facebook Live, eight educated Black men engaged us in conversation discussing what it means to be an Educated Black man from the lens of their professional career. Following the event, the next day, we held a Virtual DJ Battle scholarship fundraiser in which we raise approximately $1,000. We concluded Founder's Week with our 25 Hours of Giving campaign coupled with a fun and informative Facebook Live chat with co-founders Darryl and Jamie. Special thanks to all of our guests, sponsors, and contributors. We are excited to see what our second year has in store!

Top 100 Visionaries in Education Awards Congratulations to our Co-Founders for being selected as two of the Top 100 Visionaries in Education award for their passion, commitment, and drive to educate the next generation of leaders. This award is presented by the Global Forum for Education & Learning (GFEL).

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Corporate Partnerships Shop with us on Amazon Smile Operation G.R.A.D is registered with Amazon Smile. Now, anyone who shops through Amazon can support Operation G.R.A.D. How? Well, for each eligible purchase made by supporters, Amazon donates 0.5% back to the organization. Simply follow these 3 easy steps to get started: 1. Sign into your Amazon account via 2. Select Operation G.R.A.D, Inc. NFP as your charity. 3. Shop 'til you drop! For more information, visit

Collaborate with Us! Are you looking for opportunities to publish? For our upcoming quarterly journals, we are seeking individuals interested in sharing their knowledge, expertise, and experience with the Operation G.R.A.D community. Submissions for Volume 2, Issue 1 (Summer 2021) edition will be due May 31, 2021.

Does your passion intersect with the vision of Operation G.R.A.D? Are you looking for a way for your company to support our organization? Are you ready to make a charitable donation? If so, consider becoming a corporate sponsor. With our various sponsorship levels, there are multiple opportunities and ways for your company to support Operation G.R.A.D in the achievement of its goals. Ultimately, as a corporate sponsor, your gift helps continue and sustain the mission of the organization. To begin your journey in becoming a corporate sponsor, visit or website

#FBF: Facebook Birthday Fundraisers Do you have a birthday coming up? Of course you do! And this year we want to be a part of your special day. Operation G.R.A.D is now listed with the major non-profit organizations/charities eligible to receive funds through Facebook Fundraisers. So when your next birthday comes around the corner, consider creating a birthday fundraiser to support Operation G.R.A.D. You can search for us by name or Tax ID: 84-4956308. For more information visit

For more information please contact us at

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The Educated Mentor


Amplified "Can You Hear Me Now?!"

State of the Educated Black Man By: Dr. Darryl Hylton With many of the events that transpired over the past year, specifically related to Black men, we at Operation G.R.A.D wanted to explore the authentic and transparent thoughts of Black men. So, during Founder's Week, we held an event entitled, 'State of the Educated Black Man' where panelist were asked to share what it means to be an educated Black man from their career professional lens. The conversation was so rich in knowledge, we decided to continue the conversation in this edition of the publication to allow students to answer what it means to be an educated Black man from their respective perspective.

Emmanuel Okosisi

Graduate Student, California State University, Los Angeles Major: Masters in Business Administration

1. What is the value of being an Educated Black man in 2021? Being an educated Black man in 2021 is not just important to me, but also to my family because I bring that knowledge back home to the community. It enables me to pass the knowledge down to those who also look like me and help build more educated Black people. As an educated Black man in 2021, I am intentional about my day-to-day activities. I know that all my actions have consequences, and I know the influence I have on those in my community as a Black Leader. The value I have and bring to the table is the willingness to help encourage more Black Leaders in the community and motivate them to achieve their goals. I do this by staying true to myself and giving back to the community via sharing the knowledge and experiences that I gain over the years to uplift others who look like me. I understand the importance of always going back to your roots.

2. Considering the major events that happened in 2020 (pandemic, racial injustice, election, etc.) how has that impacted you as an Educated Black man? The major events such as the pandemic, racial injustice, and election have made me more self-aware of who I am and more strong-minded. It has shown me that I can overcome anything and everything as long as I keep my head straight. Personally, I do not let these things affect me too much because I do not let them control my emotions. I know that no matter what happens, I will not only survive, but I will thrive. It is all in the mindset. It is important to know and realize that everything assumed bad that happens in your life only makes you strong. If we could survive the pandemic, racial injustice, etc., we can definitely survive anything. We just have to make sure to stick together, help one another and keep stay strong throughout the entire process. The best thing an educated Black man can do is created man more educated Black people.

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3. What do you believe the roles/responsibilities are of you to help eradicate the issues affecting the Black community? I have been a mentor to men of color to an organization (Male Success Alliance) dedicated to increasing the graduating rates of men of color. I am also the Co-Founder and COO of Evolution of Leadership, where we provide leadership opportunities to the underserved. I believe that stepping into these leadership roles help me to help raise the overall standards of leadership. These responsibilities enable me to empower others in the Black community to become authentic and effective leaders. Leadership is very scarce in the Black community and there is a very low number of Black graduates. The work I do is to make sure that more Black Leaders are created. I am intentional about every role I take on and go in knowing fully well of all the responsibilities I carry on my shoulders. The best leaders have the ability to create more leaders, and that is exactly what I am here to do.

Traneil Moore

Senior, Mars Hill University Major: Mathematics

1. What is the value of being an Educated Black man in 2021? History unfolds the cruel punishments we as Black people faced throughout the centuries. We are blessed that we did not have to sustain the punishments inflicted, but our ancestors did. Our ancestors were given a 300+ year disadvantage where they were neglected the necessary tools and resources to compete with our White counterparts. Knowing what they went through to get us to this point makes me feel like we owe it to them to at least take advantage of the opportunities. A man or woman who knows the history and still doesn’t see the need to retaliate is valuable. A man or woman who can come from poverty (not by their own hands but by those who seek to oppress them) and still find a way to succeed is valuable. A man or woman who can go to college with no guide or coach and thrive is valuable.

2. Considering the major events that happened in 2020 (pandemic, racial injustice, election, etc.) how has that impacted you as an Educated Black man? I hear a lot that "we've come a long way", and even though it’s true we still have a long way to go. The past events have been something out of a movie, but it was something we (as a country) desperately needed. I feel like these events have made the world more aware and conscious of our oppression as Black people. Before the current events, regardless if we had an education, we were still judged by the pigment of our skin, but now at least [some] can decipher the difference between a "dangerous black man" and an educated one. As a result, I feel like I can use my education to inform those that I am not a threat. All things considered, I can’t convince everyone because some people will always see me as a threat. But, if nothing else, I can do my best to educate them and hopefully change their perspective. In times like these, as an educated black man, I must be outspoken. An educated Black man who sits on knowledge and doesn’t spread it is as useful as an ignorant Black man.

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3. What do you believe the roles/responsibilities are of you to help eradicate the issues affecting the Black community? Growing up I was told that all the education I needed was “good sense”, that "street knowledge" can carry me further than an education, and the only reason college should be an option is if you are trying to make it to pro sports. I was told positions such as lawyers, doctors, engineers, etc. were jobs for White men, and the chances for a Black man becoming one were slimmer than him becoming a pro-athlete or a famous entertainer. The only reason I originally sought a higher education was because I was good at sports and could play at a higher level. Now, I realize that being that closed minded could’ve ruined many opportunities for me. Even though we have more African Americans choosing to go to college, majority of them still have that closed mindset. I believe we must fix our community first in order to make change. More specifically, I am committed to giving my community hope by sharing how beneficial going to college has been. Additionally, I can use my journey in life to help those in my community by sharing my story in a way that can inspire them to become better. As I previously mentioned, as an educated black man, I can no longer sit back and observe, I must to do my part regardless if anyone is listening.

Christian Kornegay

Junior, North Carolina A&T State University Major: Mass Communications

1. What is the value of being an Educated Black man in 2021? The value of being an educated black man in today's world is more important than ever. When you know better you do better. To be educated doesn’t begin and end in the classroom. Although that’s a major factor being a black man in America we have to make sure we’re educated in terms of the law, politics, business, and in the books. When you accumulate all of these together you have what it takes to be a successful black man in today’s age. It’s been proven statistically that we are the highest risk when it comes to being in the system. Education is the one thing nobody can take from you.

2. Considering the major events that happened in 2020 (pandemic, racial injustice, election, etc.) how has that impacted you as an Educated Black man? It’s opened my mind to the reality of this place we call “ home “, here in the United State of America. Racial injustice to be specific has impacted because we were taught that racism “ ended “ when slavery was over in the text books, but the hash reality is it’s right here in our faces and in our day to day lives. The pandemic changed the entire way I've learned school over the past 15 years of my life. For the first time I'm not at a desk using pencil and paper, or walking into my professor's office. I’ve been forced to be self taught and pay for an education I’m essentially teaching myself.

3. What do you believe the roles/responsibilities are of you to help eradicate the issues affecting the Black community? I think it all comes down to holding the people in elected positions accountable for the actions of people under them. Continuing to put pressure on them to make sure justice is served. Making sure that this isn’t just a trendy topic but a recurring issue that MUST be handled expeditiously. The first step is to put our people in political positions and begin to own. I think we as the black community sometimes forget that power of the black dollar. During the summer of 2020 we saw immediate change when we began to be up in arms and relentless when it came to showing the power of unity. My role is to create my own table, that gives me a platform no one can take away from me. While having that platform I plan to surround myself with men and women who look like me to create generational wealth. This is just a small example of how we as the black community can take steps to put ourselves in a better position.


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The Educated Mentor


SUBMIT AN ADVERTISEMENT TO OPERATION G.R.A.D, INC.! Do you have a business, product, or service that you want to promote to the Operation G.R.A.D community? Make an advertisement donation for space in one of our upcoming quarterly journals. Discounts may be applied for those interested in running an ad for more than one quarter. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON SUBMISSION CRITERIA, PLEASE EMAIL INFO@OPERATIONGRADNFP.ORG

the mentor By: Dr. Darryl Hylton


Dr. Gabe Willis is a husband, father, and educator is a first generation student originally from Waveland, Mississippi. His educational career began at a community college where he was a studentathlete. Upon the completion of his associate’s degree, he went on to pursue his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Exercise Science from The University of Southern Mississippi and California University of Pennsylvania, respectively. Additionally, he earned an Education Specialist degree from William Carey University which eventually transitioned into a Doctorate of Philosophy in Higher Education Administration. While he currently serves as Dean of Students at Southeastern Louisiana University, that was not his original career path. He had no clue one could become a Dean of Students. His first experience as a staff member in higher education was serving as a fitness specialist at the same community college he played basketball. It was there he saw one of his colleagues with a master’s degree teaching and advising and decided to try it out for himself. “Once I got a taste of that student involvement and engagement aspect, I never looked back.”

However, it wasn’t just the student engagement and involvement that changed his career trajectory, but the


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influence of a gentleman by the name of Sam Jones. “Sam Jones is the Dean of Students at a community college and he changed my life. I saw how he engaged campus. I saw what he was doing and I knew at that point I wanted to be a Dean of Students.”

"Sometimes people show you themselves just so you can see and know how to deal with them in the future" During the interview, we asked Dr. Willis to share a bit more about his experiences and what drives him to be the educator he is today. Who are the mentors (if any) that have had the greatest influence on you? What was the best piece of advice they gave you? “Number one, my dad. My dad taught us how to be men. He

gave us “swagger” and confidence. He would always say that our name will go further than your face will ever know, so whenever you step in a room remember that you're representing our family name. My high school basketball coach, Jay Ladner, is number two. He was real big on discipline. Third? Sam Jones for sure. He just had an aura about him. You could just tell the campus was connected through him; the whole nine (faculty, staff, students). He just had something about him that I knew whatever he did for a living, that’s what I wanted to do. The best advice he gave me was, “Everything doesn’t deserve a response” and that has kept me. . . sometimes people show you themselves just so you can see and know how to deal with them in the future. Lastly, My current supervisor, Dr. Eric Summers. I call him the goat because he is. I would not be where I am today without his guidance, by all means. The day I stepped foot on this campus, six years ago, he was the first person I met and he The Educated Mentor

made a joke. He said, “You’re a Black man on this campus, you must work for a bank because we're having a program.” I told him, I worked in the CSE as an advisor. He asked me to tell him about myself and what I wanted to do. I told him I wanted to be a Dean of Students before I’m 35. He responded, “Well, you’re going to need some conduct experience. I’m the Director of Student Conduct. Meet me in my office.” I worked in that office for two years for free and learned the craft. I bothered him until he taught me everything he knew about that field. He eventually became Vice President of Student Affairs and I became Director. Some things shifted, some energies moved and eventually, I became the Dean of Students. It's several others, but those are the main ones." What does mentorship mean to you? "I think it’s hard to define because we don’t look at the difference between mentorship, coaching, and different things of that nature. I think mentorship can be Spring 2021 Edition

personalized ranging from frequent communication, social media influence, to daily check-ins. Mentorship is going to mean different things to different people and relationships, but this is how I view it." Tell us a little bit about your work at Southeastern Louisiana? "I oversee four areas: Rec Sports, Student Publications, Student Advocacy and Accountability, and the Office of Student Engagement which houses Greek Life, Leadership and Development, Multicultural and SGA. This role is so hard to define. I’m going to be honest, my day is defined by what comes up. It’s defined by what hits my email or phone. It’s not a typical 9-5 hour that you would think someone would be working, but if my phone rings and it’s urgent, this is the role to check on it. Now the extra social media stuff, I feel in this specific role of Dean of Students, there has to be a commitment to engaging in this space. One of my good colleagues, Adam Peck, called social media

the “extended student union” where you can engage, educate, and correct in this space. You see me handing out coffee and food-That’s the fun part of the ‘gig’. But what a lot of people don’t see is the executive staff meetings, COVID briefs, threat assessment meetings that have to take place. So I tell people, in this role, it is the “ugly” side of college. We address the things that are not discussed and unseen (i.e. homelessness, financial hardships, food insecurity, mental health, etc.). Overall, it’s good to know that if students don’t have anywhere else to go, they can The Educated Mentor


come to the Dean of Students office to get some type of information, relief, and support." What has been the most rewarding experience working as a black male educator? "Representation. I’m at a PWI, so when students are walking around campus and they see us what roles do they see us in? They typically see us working in facilities, dining, etc.,


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but when they can see their Vice President for Student Affairs, Dean of Students, Director of Student Engagement, Director of Student Advocacy and Accountability, are all Black persons. When they can see that and it’s public, it’s everything. I wear it proudly because they don’t get it anywhere else. And this is not to say that other students who are not Black don’t feel welcome to come into my space and get that same level of engagement, encouragement, care, and nurturing because they get that, but I know students who look like me feel different about me in this role."

So instead of trying to change me, he channeled that energy in the right way. So don’t change the person. If you see some energy there that may be off a little bit but you can work with it? Work with it. Be honest, channel that energy in the right way, be patient, and willing to get that phone call saying, “What did you do now?” Once you learn how to shift and channel your energy, nothing can stop you." Dr. Gabe Willis, son, brother, husband, father, role model, mentor, Dean of Students, and more, we thank you for your unwavering commitment to serving Black men across the nation. We thank and salute you for being a trailblazer in the field of mentoring and education.

What specific advice would you give those individuals who are looking to mentor Black men? "I would say be honest and patient. One thing about Dr. Summers is that he never attempted to change my energy. I am very passionate and outspoken that can be perceived as aggression, but it’s not.

The Educated Mentor

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Dear Brother A Word of Empowerment

"Brother, you are worthy. You are someone. You are the only version of "you" to ever exist in the universe. You are great, you are powerful. You are special." - Tylik McMillan


Dear Brother, A poet by the name of John Greenleaf Whittier once said, When things go wrong as they sometimes will, when the road you're trudging seems all uphill, when the funds are low and the debts are high, and you want to smile, but you have to sigh When care is pressing you down a bit, Rest if you must, but don't you quit. I am reminded about this poem each day because life is not expected to be perfect. Nor is life expected to be this fairy tale, but I learned early on that it is about perseverance and intentionality. It does not matter how slow you go, or how many times you fail or fall, but it's the fact that you did not stop and that you persevered even in the face of adversity. I believe in order for us to walk in this place where the blessings overtake us, for us to stand in this place where we can shine our lights before the world, and for us to live with intention, we need to understand that nothing can happen for us until we first change the way we think. I believe our history and culture as a people is here to remind us to have that mindset to live with intentionality despite our situation, despite the weakened condition we may see around us. I believe our ancestors understood they would never live above their thought life. They understood that though they were being suppressed, though they were being restrained and subdued, though they were being chained down and locked in the physical. Their mentality was to still intentionally not to give in. They understood what they were carrying and the generations they were fighting for. Most of us find it difficult to not give in and to live intentionally and with a sense of purpose because we are defeated before we ever get out of bed, we are defeated before we can put our feet on the ground because mentally we are not thinking with intention. My Brother, it takes courage to act. It takes courage to start over again. Have the courage to be who you want to be, but do not fear. Because fear kills dreams...fear kills hope...fear can age you...fear can hold you back. Don’t be afraid; make your goals become a reality. Accept where you are and the responsibility that you're going to take yourself where you want to go. It's not going to be easy- if it were easy everyone would do it. But know that you can do it and your time will come. I always reflect on this story about an elephant and a dog. An elephant and a dog became pregnant at the same time. Three months down the line, the dog gave birth to six puppies. Six months later the dog was pregnant again, and nine months on it gave birth to another dozen puppies. The pattern continued. On the 18th month, the dog approached the elephant questioning: “Are you sure that you are pregnant? We became pregnant on the same date. I have given birth three times to a dozen puppies and they are now grown to become big dogs, yet you are still pregnant. What’s going on? The elephant replied: “There is something I want you to understand. What I am carrying is not a puppy but an elephant. I only give birth to one in two years. When my baby hits the ground, the earth feels it. When my baby crosses the road, human beings stop and watch in admiration. What I carry draws attention. So what I’m carrying is mighty and great.” Don’t lose faith when you see others receive answers to their prayers. Don’t give up because life is not following the perfect plan that you outlined for it. I encourage you to continue to speak to yourself intentionally that your time is coming, and when it hits the surface of the earth, people shall yield in admiration. Brother, you are worthy. You are someone. You are the only version of "you" to ever exist in the universe. You are great, you are powerful. You are special. John Greenleaf Whittier poem continued to say, "Success is failure turned inside out— the silver tint of the clouds of doubt, And you never can tell just how close you are, It may be near when it seems so far; So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit— It's when things seem worst that you must not quit."

Tylik McMillan Stay encouraged my Brother,

Tylik McMillan Alumnus, North Carolina A&T State University

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Dominique Moody is a general assignment reporter at NBC Connecticut. He is a proud graduate of North Carolina A&T State University.He is also a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated and the National Association of Black Journalists. “Plan your work and work your plan,” that same quote from Mr. Washington’s 8th grade class still sticks with me to this day.Mr. Washington, my third African American male teacher had a profound impact on my life as well as other rambunctious and curious teenagers. Washington and so many other black role models and family members allowed me to dream big and not small. I was just like you brothers reading this, inspired and ready to make a difference, I just needed a shot and a new beginning. Insert, THE NORTH CAROLINA A&T STATE UNIVERSITY. AGGIE PRIDE (Achieving Great Goals In Everything while Producing Renowned Individuals Dedicated to Excellence)! My time at A&T was the fresh start that I needed. It was there where I really started to utilize this mantra of ‘Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan’. As soon as I stepped on campus, I immediately immersed myself into a variety of different organizations not only around campus but within my major. I was a regular contributor for our weekly newspaper, The A&T Register, I helped out behind the scenes for some of our student-ran shows and I joined the National Association of Black Journalist student chapter at A&T. Aside from that, I would go on to become an Aggie Student Ambassador, Resident Assistant, and Mr. Bull City Aggies (S/O to Durham, NC.). This foundation of writing my goals down and putting them into action would become the cornerstone I needed to accomplish my goals and again, ‘Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan.”


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Attending an H.B.C.U was the introduction I needed to learn and meet a variety of different people and really improve my interpersonal skills. It also allowed me to understand the importance of networking. A crucial skill for getting my first job in the business. I got my first job just two weeks after I graduated from college. All praises to God and my family’s prayers. My biggest pieces of advice to you in your first job or first internship is to:


Say yes to everything within reason. Use the commonsense mantra, don’t allow anyone to take advantage of you and understand the importance of standing up for yourself. My first internship was at UNC-TV in my hometown. It was an unpaid internship but the experience was worth more than money. As Chris Rock would say, there’s a difference between having a job and a career. A career is something that you would do for free and allows you to have a purpose every day. A job really consists of you just coming in and doing the bare minimum and clocking out and collecting the check.

2 3 4

Identify the ‘2 Finds’. Find what it is you like, what you would do for free & Find what also pays the bills. I know there’s a lot of pressure when it comes to making a long-term decision on what you would do for a huge chunk of your adult life. It may not come as soon as you would like and that’s okay. It’s a marathon not a sprint and pay attention to your own grass as oppose to someone else’s. Bills never stop so keep that in mind, too.

Don’t be afraid to fail big and when you do ensure you’re learning from the mistakes. Think of mistakes as building blocks or lifting weights. The more you lift up the dumbbells, the more likely you are to increase your muscle mass and lose fat (along with eating right). Network & Develop Mentorships. Your network is your net worth. It will truly make a difference if you’re able to develop meaningful relationships with people in your field.

These are the same pieces of advice I use to this day. The value of being an educated Black man is vital especially in journalism. We need more brothers and sisters both behind the scenes and in front of the camera. Remember, those who work behind the scenes call the shots and sometimes can make more money and move up quicker in the industry. We need you and I believe in you. As a reporter, I’m responsible for pitching stories but more importantly serving as a pipeline. I listen to the concerns of the community and then pitch these ideas to our news managers who call the shots. I think that’s why it’s so important for educated Black men to be at the table to ensure that our black concerns and issues are being heard and covered. In lieu of all the events in 2020, it’s important for Black men and women journalist to correctly inform the public. Following the killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmad Arbury and a host of other Black lives, it’s important we accurately report when there is civil unrest in the community and where it stems from. Systemic racism is real.

Spring 2021 Edition

The Educated Mentor


I’m not sugar coating my lifestyle either – if you’re a anchor/reporter/photographer/producer or have a career in the broadcast industry, you may work longer than 8 hours, work on the weekends, holidays and sometimes move thousands of miles away from your family. You probably won’t be making a ton of money in your first market and may not until your third or fourth job. I’m telling you this now, so you’ll be able to understand what comes with this profession and are you prepared to go down this road. It’s an exciting and great career once you get the experience under your belt and find your purpose in the industry. Not going to lie, it needs a lot of work and our powerful black and brown voices. I believe in you and remember to always Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan.’

Spring 2021 Edition

The Educated Mentor


We Make it to College, But at What Cost? By: Professor Lynn Wilson

As a higher education veteran who has been in and out of the system from a student to an Associate Dean for almost 30 years, I'd like to share with you my feelings about being in higher ed. First, there are many pros and cons. I am certainly aware there are other ways to prosper in America without going to college. Even being a first-generation graduate, I can look back on my life and know that simply believing I could be, do, and have better has challenged me to make moves or jumps. I was determined to succeed with or without getting degrees. However, because I chose the traditional college route right after high school, I look back and wonder if I became too big a fan of it simply because it was the vehicle I used to help me achieve some success in life. When you are institutionalized, you don't know that where you are parked is not the best situation. There were many Israelites who preferred living in Egypt as slaves than going through the wilderness to the Promised Land. That mentality was an institutionalized mentality. Any kind of slavery physical or mental, is not what you are supposed to be doing, being, or having. Not only are you blocking your own blessings because you are too blinded by the so-called benefits of your current situation, but other people are missing out on being blessed by you. Literally, your mind and your body, and perhaps your soul have settled or believes this is the best you can do, be, or have. Even after the Emancipation Proclamation was made that freed African-American slaves, many chose to stay on or near the plantation that enslaved them. A trip I took last year really made me ask myself, “Have I become institutionalized?”


Spring 2021 Edition

Last year, a fellow African-American professor and I took some of our 2-year predominantly Hispanic college students to a 4-year predominantly white university to inspire them to think beyond their immediate inner-city surroundings. However, visiting the sprawling, well-kept campus far away from the urban environment brought back some unexpected triggers for me. It took me back to my time attending a predominantly white university over 20 years ago where I walked a similar campus every day as a 1% minority on an upper-middle-class campus that was just as foreign to me as being on another planet. Demographically, not much has changed at the school we visited or my own alma mater. Sure, there were nods to other cultures. We saw a nice Native American exhibit and cultural-oriented offices dedicated to minority students, but they seemed and felt like sideshows compared to the main event amenities for the rest of the students. The undercurrent of pre-dominantly white institutions is they placate and tolerate diversity, but they would prefer maintaining the cultural status quo. The thing about institutional racism is just because you're accepted doesn't mean you belong there. There are many micro-aggressions that occur to make you feel you don't belong, either. I told my wife after that trip that if I was white I would want to work at a 4-year campus like the one we visited my whole career for comfort, safety, and few challenges or exposures from the outside world. It is a telling statement to instinctually know that most American colleges are specifically made to shelter, sustain and advance a certain group of people and income brackets and everyone else is just an accessory. An accessory to its philosophy, way of life, culture, and untethered belief in white supremacy. I wish I was wrong. I wish I could say I was truly supporting the proliferation of pontificating the freedoms of justice, diversity, equity, inclusion, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The Educated Mentor

I'm not angry or resentful about what it cost me to learn this truth. They say education is the great equalizer, and I would say that is somewhat true depending on what you pursue in life. My degrees have given me access to privileges I probably would not have if I didn't go to college. I learned how to play in the white man's game young. I learned the codes and how to carry myself to be accepted and tolerated. I certainly would not 'qualify' to be a professor without those traits, so I am thankful it gave me a ticket to the middle class. However, I am not naive to think post-secondary education somehow magically turns everybody who gets it into a middle or upper-middle-class citizen. It doesn't guarantee upward mobility - but it should. A solid education should lead to living-wage employability or the confidence to work for yourself. If it did, we wouldn't be arguing over what to do about $1.4 trillion in student loan debts incurred by multiple generations of people like myself who believed college was our ticket out of poverty. I saw beautiful buildings for learning, gathering, eating, and recreation. Some had been around for over 100 years, while some were getting facelifts or were under construction. I saw an amazing renovation of a classroom that would rival any Star Trek episode. It was completely privately funded by corporate donors and alum.

In the meantime, I have observed and executed the following best practices for recruiting, retaining, and completing students on their college journey: 1. Advocate for staff and faculty that can relate to your students and have diverse backgrounds. 2. Create Community - Provide mentors, spaces, and places that foster support and accountability to finish classes strong. 3. Sponsor current / potential students that are “grinders”, not just rock stars. 4. Encourage students to earn while they learn through work-study, part-time, or internships. 5. Develop Summer programs for new incoming students and high school students.

Husband and Father of 2, Lynn Wilson is Program Chair of the Business Administration department and a 8 year Associate Professor at a community college in Denver. He is also the founder of SparqU (, a social enterprise that operates as a leadership incubator and workforce training organization.

After visiting those places and spaces with new eyes, I couldn't stop thinking about what is it going to take to truly have our own institutions that rival the beautifully manicured landscapes we attend? Where can we go that will not put us in deep debt guaranteeing indentured servitude and also prepare us for 21st-century entrepreneurship and remote work? To be honest, I am still looking for a place that embraces and welcomes us and represents us in every level of operations without asking for tens of thousands of dollars in return.


Spring 2021 Edition

The Educated Mentor


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