Diversity programs aim to help minority students succeed

Quiche Matchen

The Office of Diversity Programs is helping students of color achieve success in college with programs like The Come Up and Project Class.

The Come Up program was started in the fall of 2008 by Veleashia Smith, former Office of Diversity Programs assistant director of student development.

Louisville graduate student Brandyn Bailey, graduate assistant of the Office of Diversity Programs, was in the initial The Come Up program.

Bailey said the program is meant to help males of color in areas such as academics, career building, financial responsibility and etiquette.

The program is a 12-week competition, and the candidate that has the most significant change will be the recipient of a $1,000 scholarship.

The program is aimed at students with rough backgrounds, struggling students and primarily minorities.

Bailey said he learned organizational skills from the program, and it was more than just academics.

“We got to see how genuine the program really was in holding us accountable as young men and students,” he said.

Bailey said the program shines light on things students have heard about and know about, but haven’t really practiced.

“If you’ve never had to make a budget before and when you get out of college, you have make your first budget,” he said. “We’d rather you do that now than having to do that on your own.”

He said he also administrates day-to- day activities with the program along with WKU faculty and staff, and conducts interviews.

“In interviews, we gauge how serious people would take the program and if people are just coming to the program for the money or have hidden agendas,” he said. “At the same time, on the other side of the stick, to see if people are already too advanced for the program.”

Bailey said the reason for this is so they don’t get one person that is way beyond the others’ mental capabilities.

A program similar to The Come Up is Project Class, the female version of that program, which offers the same scholarship.

Project Class is a six to 10 week program that aims to help females of color. Project Class and a Half is also offered, as a shorter version of Project Class.

Andrea Garr-Barnes, Office of Diversity Programs director, said this is the first year for Project Class and a Half.

“This provides extra support, but provides a smaller window of time,” she said.

Louisville junior Keira Martin, Office of Diversity Programs specialist, was in Project Class her freshmen year.

“These programs help you to be successful as a colored person because it teaches you things that maybe you didn’t learn at home and even if you do, you can never hear things enough so you can instill that in your values,” Martin said.

Martin said she hopes people get a change from the program like she did.

“The growth in me is something I hope everyone can get; I’m not perfect,” she said. “It gives you balance of what’s right and what’s wrong and how to make it in college personally. I hope people get what the program is intended to give you, which is success in college.”