NYS Assembly Commends Black Male Initiative at Awards Event
By David Fullard, mentor, SUNY Empire State College
June 11, 2015
The Black Male Initiative was honored with a special proclamation from the New York State Assembly at the college’s recent annual celebration of black history and alumni awards.
Following a jazz performance by the Mansoor Sabree ’00 Jazz Ensemble, and a welcome from Master of Ceremonies Jay Marshall ’06 ’08 -- a peer mentor for BMI -- the program continued with greetings from college Provost Alfred Ntoko, speaking on behalf of college President Merodie Hancock, and New York State Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell’s special assistant, Franklin Hess, at left, who delivered a special proclamation that reads in part:
“[This proclamation commends] the Black Male Initiative in its efforts to encourage members of the community to pursue higher education...[for being] committed to expanding scholastic opportunities and enhancing the quality of education in the State of New York...[providing] students with a forum to share experiences, and utilize the strength of alumni, as well as the college’s expertise in mentoring; [striving] to better connect black male students with faculty and instructors, student services and, most importantly, with each other...[its mission] to keep more black men actively enrolled in school, thereby helping them complete their college degrees...[sponsoring] numerous events and...outreach efforts and support for members and prospective members on a weekly basis...[seeking] to encourage and support the undergraduate academic careers of academically promising black men with financial needs who are actively participating within the student organization.”
The proclamation concludes by stating, “It is the sense of this legislator that when organizations of such noble aims and accomplishments are brought to our attention, they should be celebrated and recognized by all the citizens of this great Empire State; now, therefore, be it Proclaimed, That this legislator commends the Black Male Initiative in its efforts to encourage members of the community to pursue higher education....” After reading the proclamation aloud, Hess presented the BMI representatives with a framed copy.
Hundreds turned out for the event recognizing the honorees, including faculty, students, staff, members of the Empire State College Foundation board of directors, the College Council for SUNY Empire State College and many friends of the college. Student members of the Black Male Initiative served as ushers, and members of the student club Minority Students in Action also volunteered their time to assist at the event. Also honored at this event were Robert Roach Jr. '96, the general secretary-treasurer of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers; and Melba Tolliver '98, the first black person ever to anchor a network program. Both received the 2015 SUNY Empire State College Distinguished Alumni Award. The celebration concluded with another live jazz performance, by the Marcus McLaurine '09 quintet.
Larry Johnson, BMI president, said, “It's always a great evening when a program can acknowledge those who paved the way for the rest of us...it was a night to remember. Outstanding.”
Keith D. Amparado, alumnus and chair of the BMI Core Steering Committee, noted, “lt was a spectacular celebration of our past, our present and our luminaries who light the path for our future. From our youngest student, to our honorees Melba Tolliver and Robert Roach, to the jewel in our crown, Dorothy Burnham, who wears her 100 years as though she were 30...shining examples of the knowledge, strength and commitment resident in our community.”
Alan Mandell, Empire State College professor of adult learning and mentoring, commented, “It is just too rare that we have an opportunity to join together as a community to celebrate wonderful colleagues, alumni, students and friends of Empire State College. The occasion is a terrific reminder of our mission--right at the heart of things, the music just right, and the company always appreciated. Thanks to everyone associated with this important annual event. May it continue!"
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Did You Know
Effective with the Fall 1 term, Empire State College will award a $20 per credit grant to all active-duty military, guard, reservists and veterans up to a maximum of 12 credits per term for undergraduate study.