On April 27, MAN UP held its third annual recognition ceremony at the Woodbridge Campus. As a minority male mentoring and leadership development program, students were honored for their personal development, leadership skills and academic performance.
Founded in 2013, MAN UP was created to increase retention, graduation rates and the academic performance of minority males, while providing skills and motivation to students. With a total of 38 members, MAN UP program leaders and mentors Richmond Hill, Rommel Aguilar, Bobak Kasrai, Michael Turner and Cedric Howard shared that all of the organization’s members enrolled in consecutive semesters at NOVA from Fall 2016 to Spring 2017.
“Tonight is a celebration because this is the fruit of their work, power and dreams. As advisors, we have witnessed each of our members struggle as well as conquer challenges and break barriers toward their success,” Aguilar said. “We commend their strength for all of the many things they have accomplished. We acknowledge our students who have done outstanding work on campus and within the community to represent MAN UP with the highest standards.”
As a result of hard work, determination and fortitude, 13 MAN UP members will be graduating in May. Of those students, 10 have been accepted to James Madison University, Virginia Commonwealth University, George Mason University, American University, Clark Atlanta University, Tuskegee University, University of Virginia, George Washington University, the College of William and Mary and Virginia Tech. One student has been offered a full-time position at Capital One in Richmond. As active scholars on campus, six students serve as ambassadors or orientation staff members. Several students received the NOVA Seal Award and were also selected as Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges recipients. Although MAN UP members are required to attend specific events related to their organization’s purpose, collectively, students have accumulated over 230 hours of local community service.
Carl Armstrong, father to MAN UP member Davien Armstrong, described the mentoring program as “a village” and a trusted extension of their family. As an adoptive father, Armstrong said although his son does not have biological brothers, he speaks fondly of his MAN UP members and considered them as his own relatives. From a parent’s perspective, Armstrong said he relates giving his son his last name to the organization’s mission to honor their legacy.
“There is something in a name,” Armstrong said. “All of the MAN UP advisors and supporters could not give you their DNA, but they gave each member their time, wisdom, resources, talents, skills, and whether you know it or not, they gave you their name. You have a responsibility to continue to do what is right.”
Former MAN UP member and NOVA graduate Sohail Naeem said he was hesitant at first to join the mentoring program back in Fall 2013, but realized he had made one the best decisions in his life. Now, as a student at George Mason University, Naeem encouraged his former classmates to remain focused in life despite the perceptions of others.
“I thank MAN UP for believing in me,” said Naeem. “I was surrounded by likeminded individuals and excellent mentors. Their love, respect and desire to succeed were truly genuine in both expression and in action. I thank NOVA faculty and staff for supporting MAN UP and allowing it to prosper. MAN UP members, continue the path that you have embarked upon because in doing so, you are not only helping yourself, but slowly and steadily we will change people’s perception of us for the better.”
The celebratory occasion also honored NOVA graduates through a special Donning of the Kente recognition, which symbolized their academic achievement. Awards were received in the following categories:
Emerging Leader Award
Academic Achievement Award
Ahman Brown (3.8 GPA)
Brotherhood & Leadership Award
MAN UP Brother of the Year Award
Khamyejee Williams and Arnaldo Jared Vazquez
Karen L. Todd Award
Charlene Wilkins and Tamaica Jackson
Special NOVA Faculty/Staff Recognition Awards
Dr. Scott Ralls
Dr. Sam Hill
The mission of MAN UP is to promote and create access to supportive relationships that help minority males overcome barriers to college graduation. MAN UP is open to any minority male student enrolled at NOVA-Woodbridge. As a member, students are assigned a mentor and will benefit from academic skill building and advising, monthly success coaching, access to networking opportunities, character building workshops on self-esteem and communication, social and athletic events/activities and service learning projects.
Media Contact: Kristina Ogburn | 703.503.6338 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.