Take a visit to LaGrange College these days and you will discover a cornucopia of cultures represented on the campus. Students from around the world find the small campus a great alternative to attending school in a major urban environment. The attractiveness of small classes with instruction delivered in classrooms featuring a student-teacher ratio of 12 to 1 is appealing to parents and students. The college, founded in 1831, is the oldest private college in the state. The students come from 21 states and five different countries
Minority students also find the environment attractive and are making a positive contribution to others on the campus and in the community. On the campus last year, they met and formed what is called the Black Male Initiative. The organization was founded by LaGrange College alumnus, Corey B. Morgan, to increase the enrollment, retention and graduation of African-American males.
The present public relations officer for the organization, Agrlin Braxton, a junior at LaGrange College, stated that the pillars of the Black Male Initiatives are retention, belonging and growth. Pursuant to this, Braxton said that “our organization is firmly committed to increasing the retention rate of black males at Lagrange College by working aggressively to ameliorate any conditions preventing them from feeling at home on the campus.” He believes this can be accomplished in a spirit of cooperation and genuine dialogue with campus administrators, faculty, staff and students.
Karen Loncke, a junior from Hampton, Georgia, is a kind of student ambassador. She just returned from a stay in Thailand as a participant in an international program sponsored by LaGrange College. As a black student, she indicated that she feels completely at home on the campus and has been received warmly by college officials and students.
Braxton also believes that even though all students should feel a sense of comfort and belonging on the campus, a person’s culture is important and should be respected if it does not infringe on the rights of others. The campus has been considerate and sensitive to the importance of cultural diversity, and in the past, has invited guest speakers from a broad cultural and political spectrum to include civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis and Shirley Franklin, former African-American mayor of the city of Atlanta.
In celebration of black history this month, student officers of the organization: Miles Rice, president; Robert Allen, Jr., vice president; and Darius Wonnum, secretary, sponsored a program on the campus honoring and celebrating the legacy of the late, renowned educator and leader, Benjamin E. Mays on the campus. As a footnote, Mays was the former president of Morehouse College and mentor to many well-known and celebrated black males such as the late Dr. Martin Luther King.
Members of the Black Male Initiative have already made an important contribution to the community. Members of the initiative served over the past year as volunteer tutors for the Greater Achievement Youth Empowerment Academy — a local organization which provides free SAT/ACT tutoring at LaGrange College on Saturdays for local public-school students. Their enthusiasm and professionalism as tutors resulted in students achieving phenomenal results on the tests which was featured prominently in surrounding print media.