Every other Friday, members from Florida A&M University’s chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists student mentor 18 students from FAMU’s Development Research School.
“We go over and help them with newsletters and their yearbook but we also have roundtable discussions about college preparations,” said Georgia Dawkins, 20, president of FAMU’s NABJ chapter. “We also talk to them about applying for college even if they don’t want to go to FAMU or major in journalism.”
Dawkins said the organization chose FAMU DRS because of its failing FCAT grade. She and other members thought it was only fit that they go over and try to remedy the situation.
“It’s only one minute from our campus and they [FAMU DRS] need us,” said Marquaila Bradley, 20, a sophomore magazine production student from St. Petersburg. “This is an F school. Some of them hadn’t even thought about college before we came.”
Dawkins said that FAMU DRS should not be an F school considering its proximity to and relationship with the university.
FAMU DRS students who are participating in the program said that it is beneficial and helps them to get on the right track for the future; even those without mentors have acknowledged the program’s importance.
“When the mentors come, you get different outlooks from people who have already experienced college and can bring those experiences to us,” said Alex Taylor, a senior at FAMU DRS from Miami. “Although I’m not interested in the journalism field, for those who are, this is a great program to be a part of.”
Though the mentoring program is fairly new, Dawkins said the organization has set up a scholarship fund that will be awarded to all mentees that meet the criteria at the end of the school year.
“Mentees must write a 350-500 word essay about how their intended career goal relates to journalism, have at least a 2.5 grade point average and apply to at least three colleges or universities to receive the scholarship,” Dawkins said. “It is awarded as a savings bond, in an effort to reiterate the concept of saving and budgeting money; a conversation we had with the students during one of our discussions.”
Dawkins said that during a discussion, both mentors and mentees thought if they knew more about budgeting and saving, they would be ahead of the game. Since then, the savings bond scholarship fund was introduced as a way for the mentees to begin that process.
“For them to be able to cash it they have to hold on to it for a year,” Dawkins said. “But, the longer they hold on to it, the more it will mature.”
To help contribute to funds raised for the scholarships, the organization has a concession stand every Monday and Wednesday in front of the gallery at FAMU’s School of Journalism and Graphic Communications.
“We [are] also accepting donations from professional NABJ members and alumni to help with our scholarship,” Dawkins said.
Dawkins said the goal for the mentoring program goes beyond simply guiding the students towards higher education.
“Of course we want all of our mentees to apply to college and get accepted,” Dawkins said. “But we also want them to have the desire to become mentors themselves and give back to their communities as we are doing.”
FAMU’s chapter of NABJ holds general body meetings every other Wednesday in room 3052 in SJGC at 8p.m.
“Our meetings are open, and we are always looking for new members,” Dawkins said.