Victoria Bresnahan – General Assignment Reporter
In collaboration with the OBAMA Initiative II, a group that provides resources to young people of color and educates them on the benefits of college, Southern’s Brotherhood of Scholarship and Excellence, or BRoSe club, will be directing a tour of 15 to 20 middle school boys of color around campus this week.
The purpose of the tour is to show the New Haven students what Southern is and understand “what’s in their backyard,” according to Jordan Johnson, a senior sociology major and founder of the OBAMA Imitative II.
“They don’t know what is on this campus,” said Johnson. “I have the resources and the ability to connect with different people on campus for so long that I can bring what I have outside of campus onto this campus just to show younger people what it is like.”
Johnson, who helped coordinate this event with BRoSE—a group organized to unite and empower men of color—said he was a part of the OBAMA Initiative in middle school through his mentor, the now New Haven Probate Judge Clifton Graves.
When Johnson was in the eighth grade, he said Graves established this program and brought in different New Haven professionals—such as police officers, firefighters, lawyers and so forth—for Johnson and his peers to meet.
“Him doing that for me at a young age,” said Johnson, “I was visual to that, I was part of that. I thought it was a good idea.”
These professionals help the young students realize they can achieve more and become whoever they want to be, said Johnson. Since 2015, Johnson has been coaching basketball at Celentano Biotech, Health and Medical Magnet School and became close with students. It was there Johnson began the OBAMA Initiative II.
He said the program is designed to inform these students there are professionals who are working to make their community better. By connecting them with these professionals, Johnson said the students will be able to do the same thing throughout the generations.
“So, it’s giving back to the same people who gave to me,” said Johnson. “It’s just trying to keep things inside of the community.”
Montrel Morrison, a senior political science major, is a member of BRoSE. He said the club works to establish partnerships with Southern and the New Haven community—such as their collaboration with the OBAMA Initiative II.
Morrison said the group was created in 2014 and founded by nine different brothers, including himself. He said the club, which has about 30 members, was created because men of color felt they had no outlet on campus.
“BRoSE provides [a place] where we can talk about whatever we are going through,” said Morrison. “And that’s many topics. It could be academics, personal, family, relationships, everything.”
As young men of color and students, it is important for this group to understand they are important on Southern’s campus and “BRoSE brings that to the table,” Morrison said.
Reggie Savage Jr., a freshman exercise science major, is the freshman delegate for BRoSE and one of the tour guides. He said he will be showing the students different places to study, purchase food and where to hang out.
Growing up, Savage said he knew a good number of people who he could reach out to and learn from. Who he is today stems from those people, he said.
“Mentoring was something that I never really wanted to do until I got to high school,” said Savage. “I realized how impacting that is. Not even just the big portion of giving tours, [but] just by presenting yourself to a kid younger than you, and especially if they know you are coming from their environment, it’s like they will definitely just latch on as far as getting attention.”
Photo Credit: Victoria Bresnahan