A close examination of the profile of students enrolled in a U.S college or university reveal that minorities or students of color are disproportionately underrepresented in four-year institutions, as well as lag behind their White counterpart in retention, persistence and graduation rates. New Mexico State University (NMSU) defines underrepresented minority as individuals belonging to the following race and/or ethnic group: American Indian/Alaskan Native, Black or African American (Non-Hispanic), Hispanic, and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander ethnic groups. What is of greater concern is Men of Color (MOC) have an increased risk of low retention, persistence, and graduation of all ethnic groups. In an effort to address this persisting problem, many colleges and universities have implemented programs and services (e.g. mentorship, academic support) in the attempt to provide the necessary support to this population of students who prematurely leave the institution without a degree or certificate, but saddled with loan debt.
NMSU is leading by example by creating a mentorship program to support men of color. The mentorship program for Males of Color (MOC) is necessary because it supports diversity, inclusivity and equity. The goal of the mentoring project is to provide males of color the resources and support needed to achieve academic success. Pairing students with mentors who are experienced with university and community resources provides exposure and opportunities for development. The hope is that participation in the program will provide students the knowledge, skills and agency to successfully navigate not only college but life as well. The experience also allows the males to foster and nurture lifelong relationships and establish a network of support.