A great collaboration

There is no fanfare or big ceremony kicking off a new Lynn YMCA program that could very well alter the lives of young men from Lynn.

Beginning on Friday, the Neptune Boulevard-based organization officially launches a collaborative with Salem State University aimed at providing black high school males with the opportunity to learn about what college is really like.

Men of Color, a Salem State student group, is taking on the challenge of mentoring the Lynn teens weekly at Salem State, beginning with the intricate process of applying and getting accepted to a college.

The initiative’s Sept. 22 kickoff takes place at Salem State University from 5-9 p.m. The YMCA is providing transportation to the event and parents are invited to attend.

In describing its partnership with the Salem State students, the YMCA referenced an article titled, “Changing the Narrative for Men of Color in Higher Education.” It’s written by Lisa McBride, PhD, who is vice president for Inclusive Excellence at Salem State.  

The article was published in the June 2017 issue of Insight into Diversity, an academic publication. Not surprisingly, McBride is a collaborative partner in the college diversity project.

It is hard not to underestimate the importance of two strong local organizations — the YMCA and Salem State — combining forces to expand educational opportunities and reinforce the notion that college must be a dream that can become a reality for every American.

Don’t confuse the need to translate a dream into reality with the notion of entitlement. Education must be earned through discipline and endurance, but it also must be made available financially to all who seek it in this country.

The college diversity collaborators understand that converting a dream into reality is hard work only taught by those who have succeeded in reaching out and grasping their dream. The students who make up Men of Color surely have learned and understand they cannot look ahead to the futures education affords them unless they reach back and pull others up the mountain path they climbed to attain success.

College can be a daunting and baffling goal especially to young people who do not have a parent, older sibling or cousin as a reference point for higher education achievement. The questions confronting someone considering college are not easily answered: How will my education translate into a job? How will I afford college? How do I prepare to live and learn outside my childhood comfort zone?

Only people who have answered these questions in their own lives are truly capable of guiding others to the answers. The college diversity collaborators have plenty of activities planned to position young Lynn males for an up close look at college.

Choreographer Jimmy Locust in January is scheduled to share his story of challenge, overcoming barriers and achieving success. By the time they hear Locust speak, the college diversity participants will certainly have drawn inspiration from the Salem State students slightly older than them who reached out, took a dream and turned it into a goal.

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