As any student, from kindergarten to doctoral student, White male to Native American female, we enter school wanting to learn, and more importantly, able to learn. While historically this was not the majority opinion in both the pre- and post-segregation era, researchers have proven that all students can learn and should be taught in a manner that "appreciates the rich differences among students" (Lindsey, Robins & Terrell, 2003).
At risk youth tend to be those who are in a lower socioeconomic class, have parents who have not graduated from high school, and usually have a different culture from those of the "majority" status, or White males (Hoffman, Llagas & Snyder, 2003). At-risk characteristics are not determined by skin color; however, there are individuals who automatically will place those characteristics on students of color even if they are unfounded. Without faculty who look like themselves to mentor and value them, students of color, and especially males, often do not persist in higher education. Many of these students would have been discouraged from continuing into post-secondary education, may have been placed in remedial high school classes, and were, more than likely, first-generation college students, if they made it that far.
The literature all supports the fact that students of color have historically been oppressed when it come to issues of access to education (Hoffman, Llagas & Snyder, 2003; Smith, Altback & Lomotey, 2002; Thernstrom & Thernstrom, 2003; Watkins, Lewis & Chou, 2001). The research, although discussing both genders, seemed to indicate that males were not taking full advantage of the educational opportunities now afforded them.
There is a relationship between student satisfaction and persistence and retention in higher education. Research states that higher levels of student involvement on campus, increases the likelihood of persistence and retention, especially those from historically underrepresented backgrounds (Astin, 1984; Astin, Korn, & Green, 1987; Laden, 1999; Lee, 1999; Nora & Lightfoot, 2002; Ross-Thomas & Bryant, 1994). And while the numbers of historically underrepresented women grew on college campuses over the past decade those for their male counterparts did not. Hence, the need for involvement programs for historically underrepresented male students is evident.
Numerous mentoring model programs exist in colleges and universities nation-wide. Research shows the inception of these programs to be primarily for the retention of students, and primarily for the retention of underrepresented students of color (Astin, 1984; Laden, 1999; LaVant et al., 1997; Lee, 1999; Ross-Thomas & Bryant, 1994; Tinto, 1987; Walton, 1979).
This research demonstrates a mentoring program for historically underrepresented male students on a community college campus as well as the leadership affects of the researcher, a White female.