Monday, January 14, 2008

Something to actually be proud of about HC

HUNTINGTON, IN—Huntington University’s efforts to create a more ethnically and racially diverse campus have resulted in a partnership with Youth for Christ and the joint hiring of the director for the Urban Scholarship and Mentoring Program, Amber Brown.

“On the Huntington side, this program will create access for students from underrepresented populations who already are being shaped and molded and prepared for higher education,” Brown said. “On the YFC side, it gives the organization access to higher education. The students will have the opportunity to volunteer part-time or even full-time with YFC.”

In the fall of 2008, the first cohort of six students will enroll as part of the Urban Scholarship and Mentoring Program. Brown is in the process of recruiting students, traveling to cities such as Fort Wayne, Ind.; Peoria, Ill.; Detroit, Mich.; and Columbus, Ohio. Students admitted to the program will receive the Horizon Scholarship, a full-tuition scholarship.

Brown first heard about the director position for the Urban Scholarship and Mentoring Program through her pastor, Luther Whitfield, who is also a member of the Board of Trustees for Huntington University and the national community ministries consultant for Youth for Christ.
“Everything – the job description and the title caught my attention, managing an urban scholarship and mentoring program, working with students who have a similar background to mine, creating my position as I go along,” Brown said. “Giving someone else an opportunity and helping to shape their experience on campus – it’s a great feeling.”

Brown was a first-generation college student, having graduated from the University of Illinois and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in southern California. Her employment background includes management, admissions, counseling, mentoring, training and developing, skills she believes will benefit her in this new position.

“My background is diverse in itself,” she said. “I’m drawing from every experience, both personal and professional.”

Brown began her role in September, and one of her goals was to create a task force comprised of faculty as well as staff from the university and Youth for Christ. The purposes of the task force include defining the admissions process for the Urban Scholarship and Mentoring Program, choosing a selection committee for interviewing prospective students, planning leadership activities for students, creating programming activities, and developing a leadership program for the summer. The leadership program likely will be a week-long retreat.

“The goal of the leadership program would be to keep those students connected over the summer and make sure they’re still excited about coming to Huntington,” Brown said.

Each student in the Urban Scholarship and Mentoring Program will receive personal attention from Brown. She plans to meet with each student weekly during the academic year.
“This also will help students integrate into the existing fabric of Huntington,” Brown said. “It’s important that these students have a very well-rounded experience because we’re shaping and molding leaders and launching them back into the community after graduation.”

Brown wants to ensure that the students commit to a four-year program and understand that one of their roles is to become campus leaders. She believes in the holistic development of these student leaders, an idea she has outlined through the acronym “CAPSS” – community service, academics, professional/leadership development, spiritual and social.

Students interested in the program will need to fill out an application. Then, 15 semi-finalists will be selected to come to campus for a dinner, team-building exercises, a team debate, and an interview. From that point, six students will be selected. Brown believes having the students on campus and in person during the selection process will give insight into who they are and whether Huntington would be a good fit for them.

“We’ll be able to see them and their leadership skills shine in a different way,” she said.
The Urban Scholarship and Mentoring Program is modeled after Act Six, a program headquartered in Tacoma, Wash., and implemented at George Fox University in Oregon, Whitworth University and Pacific Lutheran University in Washington as well as Crichton College in Tennessee.