Story by Jessica Bostick, Assistant News Editor
A mentoring program called “We are B.R.A.V.E.” has been developed by Jasmine Young, a Murray State graduate student with a degree in counseling from Louisville, Kentucky, for at-risk African-American youth in the Murray-Calloway County school district.
“Both School Counselors and Administration [at Murray Elementary School] have recognized a pattern that identifies African American students becoming less invested in the school culture,” Young said. “The faculty and staff suspect that the pattern has a direct correlation with the lack of diversity in the school and school administration, because there is no representation of the African American culture.”
B.R.A.V.E. is an acronym for Black, Respectful, Achieving, Victorious and Empowered. Members believe the program will help African-American students develop high academic standards while at the same time empowering them and building their confidence.
Young says she hopes that the program will act as an early intervention for African-American students by showing them examples of successful African-American college students and what they could one day become by allowing the students to spend time on Murray State’s campus.
The program will also encourage students to explore careers and set personal goals for themselves. Students in kindergarten through the third grade will be eligible to participate in the program.
“This program will build their self-esteem by giving students the opportunity to see other African-Americans who have plans to be doctors, teachers, engineers, social workers, etc. while getting them onto a college campus to show them where they could be in the years to come,” Young said.
The three goals of the B.R.A.V.E. program are to provide students with supportive relationships with their mentors, improve the participants’ academic performance and improve the students’ interpersonal skills.
“The idea of the program is to give them a positive outlook in life and self-worth; especially coming from a school where the African American students aren’t familiar seeing people that look like them,” Young said.
The Murray State students involved will provide support, guidance and friendship to the participants. Mentors will be paired with their mentees for at least a year at a time.
Since the program began in September, events have included a mentor/mentee reveal, parent orientation and a Halloween Festival. The next event is the Harvest Festival on Sunday. At the Harvest Festival, students will make Thanksgiving cards to send to local nursing homes and discuss the importance of Thanksgiving.
“We Are B.R.A.V.E. will be expanding to Murray Middle school in January 2016. I eventually would like to implement the program to my home town, Louisville, Kentucky,” Young said. “My hope is to make We Are B.R.A.V.E a nationwide program. African-American culture is underrepresented and tends to have a negative stigma.”
Anyone interested in being a mentor can contact Young at firstname.lastname@example.org.