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UHD, HCC Team Up for Greater Houston Area Men of Color Symposium

Nov. 13 Virtual Event to Inspire, Inform Houston Area Students


By Mike Emery

Diversity thrives institutions such as the University of Houston-Downtown and Houston Community College, but that’s not always the case across higher education. Research continues to show disparities in success and achievement among students of color.

Both UHD (a recognized Hispanic Serving Institution and Minority Serving Institution) and HCC have worked diligently to support Black and Hispanic students to help them navigate their academic journeys. One of the collaborative initiatives focused on empowering and informing future students is the Greater Houston Area Men of Color Symposium.

This year marks the fourth year that UHD and HCC have teamed up for this event aimed at inspiring tomorrow’s college students and providing them with information that will be helpful in their first steps toward a degree.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the 2020 Men of Color Symposium will be conducted virtually at 11 a.m., Nov. 13. Students can register here to participate in this event. The 2020 theme of the symposium is “Resilience Through Education.”

“This event allows students of color, specifically male students of color, more opportunities to see and connect with leaders that represent their cultural and community experiences,” said Dr. Jerry Wallace, Assistant Dean at UHD’s College of Public Service and Director of Recruiting and Retention. “Providing students with an opportunity to see peers in leadership roles offers a measure of encouragement and is a clear indication that it is possible to overcome barriers. College sometimes is an impossible mountain to climb for male students of color and their families. This event is important to provide them with success strategies at every phase of their journey.”

Opening greetings will be delivered by UHD Interim President Antonio D. Tillis, Ph.D. and HCC’s Dr. Debbie Hamilton, HCC Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Engagement & Success. Belashia Wallace, attorney and founder of The Wallace Law Firm, will deliver keynote remarks.

The symposium also will feature a discussion led by UHD Student Government Association President Alan Modrow and featuring local leaders in business and higher education. These panelists include:

  • Marcus Bowers, UHD alumnus and owner and founder of She’s Happy Hair
  • Daniel Villanueva, UHD Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management
  • Dr. Isidro Grau, Director of UHD's Academic Support Center
  • Armando Galvan Cruces, HCC Coordinator of Student Life
  • Marvin Pierre, founder and Executive Director of 8 Million Stories
  • Benjamin Blessing, HCC Men of Honor Student President

Additionally, the event will provide an overview of HCC and UHD programs, as well as information on the upcoming Fall 2020 UHD Open House on November 14. The event, Wallace said, is just one way both institutions are supporting student success in the city.

“Over the next year, we plan to track high school seniors and community college transfer students to help transition them into our men of color success programs,” he said. “We want students and families to know that they can come to our institutions and feel supported by faculty, staff, and community leaders.”

The success programs to which Wallace refers include Men of Honor at HCC and Men of L.E.G.A.C.I. and Call Me MISTER at UHD.

“Programs such as these can support student retention efforts in a dynamic way,” he said.

Both UHD and HCC have ongoing partnerships to create seamless transitions from high school to community college and ultimately, to university bachelor’s programs. This symposium complements those efforts and further supports student success in the region.

“We want to encourage students and inform them that our local community colleges and universities are working in tandem to support student success at every level,” Wallace said. “The team that has been assembled is ready and willing to provide access to a variety of resources for male students of color in our Houston community.”


About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.