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Spartanburg Community College's Call Me MiSTER program, which educates and inspires young men to become South Carolina teachers, recently received donated laptops from a local organization hoping to impact the lives of young men in the Spartanburg community. SCC MiSTERS Khyree Miller and Nicholas Smith received laptops from Victor Durrah, Jr., and Terrance Hawes with Brothers Restoring Urban Hope.
"I am with a community group here in Spartanburg - Brothers Restoring Urban Hope - a group of African American young professionals, about 100 members throughout the community. We just had our Black Excellence Community Gala that highlighted black excellence in the community, and with the money we raised we want to provide laptops every semester to students who are in need," explained Victor Durrah, Jr., executive director of the organization. "I work in higher ed and I meet a lot of students everyday who want to work on resumes and do work, and they don't have laptops. Too much happens in education that requires a laptop - studying, writing - and we want to make sure that our guys, especially educators, have the best chance and opportunity to do well. If there's a need we want to make sure we provide and meet that need."
Joining Durrah for the presentation was Terrance Hawes, also a member of Brothers Restoring Urban Hope. "I am involved because young black men need to see an example of a successful person who looks like them and be motivated, inspired to keep pursuing their goals. A lot of times it's hard to engage and inspire others if you can't relate to their demographics, so we take time to give back. I came from the Northside of Spartanburg, impoverished, but I had mentors who held me accountable," said Hawes, talent and economic inclusion coordinator, Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce. "The position I'm in today as an entrepreneur and in diversity, inclusion work at the Chamber is because I had people who looked like me and saw potential in me. It's important for me to continue to do the same thing for other young men."
For the two SCC MiSTER students who received the laptops - Khyree Miller and Nicholas Smith - they say it's a game-changer. "Receiving the laptop means everything. It's an honor to have people invested in us, believing in what we do, believing that they're not wasting their money giving us these things," said Miller.
Smith adds, "Instead of relying on library (computers) to do work, I can now be at home and get work done with this laptop since most of our work is online."
Both Miller and Smith sing praises about SCC's MiSTER program and their decision to
study education at SCC with the goal of becoming a SC teacher. "I'm part of MISTER
because I truly believe what we do here. We need to increase the number of African
American role models for children who want to be something one day," explained Miller.
"I joined the MiSTER program because I believe we can make a difference in this world by putting African American educators in our classrooms because we definitely need more," added Smith.
"Everyone in the state knows teachers don't make enough money, they're not respected. So, for these guys to decide they want to study education, this noble field, is amazing." explained Frederick Keenan, SCC instructor and coordinator of Call Me MiSTER. "They are incredible to work with and they are wonderful guys. I can't say enough about what they have decided to do. It takes a really strong individual to say, 'I want to be a teacher.'"
The mission of SCC's Call Me MiSTER program is to increase the pool of available teachers
from a broader, more diverse background particularly among SC's lowest performing
elementary schools. MiSTER, an acronym for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective
Role Models, offers minority students the hope of aspiring to be a teacher and leaders
in their community. In addition to increasing classroom diversity, the MiSTER program
mentors young minority students into effective leaders who can then mentor their own
students. Qualified students who apply and are accepted into the program receive:
• Academic support system to help assure their success;
• A cohort system for social and cultural support;
• Assistance with tuition and/or books;
• Assistance with job placement.
Photos are available for download from SCC Flickr album
Photo caption: Shown from left are, MiSTERS Chayton Fuller, Shaekwon Heard and Khyree Miller (laptop recipient); Terrance Hawes, talent and economic inclusion coordinator, Spartanburg Chamber of Commerce; Victor Durrah, Jr., executive director, Brothers Restoring Urban Hope; MiSTERS Nicholas Smith (laptop recipient) and Taylor Ayers; and Frederick Keenan, SCC instructor and coordinator of Call Me MiSTER program.