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November 19, 2014
Black Male Initiative Students, Alumni and Faculty Meet with Assemblyman Farrell
Student, faculty and alumni members of the SUNY Empire State College Black Male Initiative recently met with Herman D. “Denny” Farrell Jr., a member of the New York State Assembly, at his New York City office.
First elected in 1974, Farrell represents Assembly District 71, located in northern Manhattan. In 1994 Sheldon Silver, speaker of the state Assembly, appointed Farrell chair of the state Assembly Committee on Ways and Means, the state Assembly’s standing fiscal committee.
The purpose of the meeting was to inform Farrell about BMI, its mission, current and future efforts and solicit his support for the college and the program.
Founded in 2009 and based at the college’s Manhattan office, BMI offers support and solutions from registration to graduation for black male students, some of whom are at risk for stopping out of college. Programs and supports include a scholarship, at-risk student outreach, peer coaching, support group meetings, career counseling, panel discussions and events related to the black community and student and alumni networking.
The meeting was organized and convened by the college’s Assistant Professor and Faculty Mentor David A. Fullard, faculty adviser for BMI and a member of the Empire State College Foundation Board of Directors.
According to Fullard, the group members collectively explained that BMI was inspired by personal stories and media attention to the challenges black males face when trying to complete a college degree.
Fullard was joined at the meeting by Keith Amparado ’88, chairman of the BMI Steering Committee and a member of the college’s Alumni Student Federation Board of Governors, student Lawrence Johnson, a past representative on the Empire State College Council and current president of BMI, Jay Marshall ’06, ’08, founding member and peer coach of BMI and a past member of the Empire State College Foundation Board of Directors, and Dexter Mead ‘14, a peer coach and past BMI scholarship recipient.
The group members outlined the support mechanisms provided by BMI outreach for at-risk and other students and its steering committee’s efforts in organizing club activities and Fullard also said the group maintains a strong foundation for the organization by instilling a "pay it forward" mentality among individual members of the group.
Fullard reported that the group discussed BMI's history and the overall situation of black men in college and that Farrell said he was encouraged and happy to see that such an organization was in place within the SUNY system.
As a result of the meeting, Fullard said that Farrell gladly offered to help provide greater exposure for BMI to communities in Manhattan, especially Harlem, to share its existence and mission, and that he was enthusiastic about the fact that black males who wanted to advance themselves could find a high and sustained level of support within the college’s overall environment.