Community Focus: Mentorship program helps boost GPAs at OCCC

Oklahoma City Community College. (KOKH/File)

A successful mentorship program at OCCC is expanding.

The growth means more students can benefit from its proven results.

Oklahoma City Community College took a problem -- the lower than average GPA of its students who are African American -- and worked on solving the issue. The solution has turned those low marks into a GPA higher than the school's average. The program Students Connecting with Mentors for Success, pairs struggling students with a person who can help encourage them, and listen to their concerns and their goals.

Bryon Dickens heads the mentorship program at OCCC.

“Students often feel that to say that they need help is a sign of weakness, and one of the things I had to do early on was to let our students know that it is actually a sign of strength when you are bold enough to say hey I need some help,” says Dickens.

The mentorship program will now expand to include African American women, Hispanic women, and Hispanic men.

Dickens says the goal remains to continue to work on the next lowest GPAs at OCCC.

Students Connecting with Mentors for Success is looking for mentors to be a part of the program, and hopes some bilingual English/Spanish mentors will reach out.

“We have a lot of students within our Hispanic population who of course would be more comfortable with someone who could fluently speak Spanish with them,” says Dickens.

Professionals who want to mentor must be at least 21 years old and be able to commit to a full year.

In terms of the time commitment, mentors are asked to contact the students once a week by at least a phone call or text, and have face to face meetings once a month.

The OCCC mentorship program's ultimate goal is to have a mentor for any first-generation college student that wants one.

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