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‘I know that I have a bright future’: GCC’s Black Scholars recount their visits to campuses

Bethune-Cookman University visit

Students from Glendale Community College, as well as those from Victor Valley College, stand here at Florida’s Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black university that was one of seven campuses they visited in Florida, Louisiana and Alabama in June.

(Courtesy of Robert Williams)

About a dozen Glendale Community College students plan to transfer to a historically black college or university following recent visits to seven of the campuses in Florida, Louisiana and Alabama.

Among the students who plan to transfer is Lonnie McNamee III, a football player and track athlete at Glendale Community College who will begin his second year at the school this fall.

McNamee recounted the trip during a college trustee meeting this week.

As he recalled the administrators and others who greeted the Glendale students on the campuses, he said, “They treated us as if we were family, like they cared about us and our future.”

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Florida A&M visit

Students from Glendale Community College, as well as those from Victor Valley College, pose here at the eternal flame located on the campus of Florida A&M University, one of seven historically black colleges and universities the students visited in June in Florida, Louisiana and Alabama.

(Courtesy Robert Williams)

About 15 Glendale Community College students who belong to the school’s Black Scholars program, along with students who attend Victor Valley College, visited the campuses in mid-June.

In addition to touring the campuses, learning about the schools’ history and meeting with administrators and counselors, the students visited iconic landmarks.

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They went to the Whitney Plantation in Louisiana, walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma and saw Martin Luther King, Jr.'s home in Montgomery.

Accompanying the students on the trip were Robert Williams, coordinator of the Black Scholars program at Glendale Community College, and Maleta McPherson, manager of the college’s bookstore and a graduate of Bethune-Cookman University.

McPherson often volunteers to mentor students and for years has accompanied them on trips to visit historically black colleges and universities.

“In order for them to move forward, it’s important for me that we help them to understand where they came from, so they can understand the direction they need to go,” McPherson said by phone this week.

Earlier in June, the California Community Colleges announced the expansion of its guaranteed-transfer agreement with historically black colleges and universities.

Under the agreement, California community college students can transfer to one of 21 historically black colleges and universities, 12 more campuses than they could in 2015 when the initial agreement with the first nine campuses was signed.

The transfer can be automatic if a student earns an associate degree for transfer or has completed 30 or more CSU or UC transferable units with a 2.5 or higher grade-point average.

At Glendale Community College, black students make up about 2.5% of the population, said Williams, who began coordinating the Black Scholars program in late 2014.

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Aside from activities the members organize, such as a bone marrow drive to combat sickle cell anemia or celebrating black women during Women’s History Month, the students participate in tutoring sessions and meet with their professors for progress reports at least three times each semester.

On top of the social and academic events, Williams points to an underlying theme that leads to the group’s success: love.

“Without love, it really doesn’t mean anything,” Williams said. “The students know 100% that I love them. It’s not easy for a black man, specifically, to express love. I think [I] ... and the other black men on campus love freely. It’s our duty almost to teach the next generation.”

Over time, Williams said he can see his young students take on a new mentality.

“The students are happier. The students feel more comfortable in their own skin. The students feel higher education is the place they belong,” he said.

McNamee also told the trustees this week that he’s determined to succeed while juggling his studies with working part -time and playing on the college’s track and football teams.

He has a 3.8 grade-point average and plans to become a sports psychologist.

“I refuse to be looked [upon] as another black male with no future,” he said. “I know that I have a bright future, and I can’t wait to prove the world wrong. Being black and successful is absolutely possible.”

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Kelly Corrigan, kelly.corrigan@latimes.com

Twitter: @kellymcorrigan


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