The Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) at MMC has launched several new professional and leadership development opportunities, including paid internal internships and the HEOP Leadership Council. HEOP has also re-launched the Young Men’s Initiative (YMI), for self-identified men of the program.
The new HEOP student staff cohort consist of the HEOP Leadership Council, the HEOP Office Manager Intern and Young Men’s Initiative Delegate, and the HEOP Work-Study and Research Assistant.
The HEOP Leadership Council, founded by the Program Director Harmony Cross, is a newly created group of HEOP interns who have been appointed by the Director to lead specific projects. The purpose of the Council is to provide intentional professional development opportunities for students to gain practical experience and learn transferrable skills and encourage career-readiness. “Career and job readiness is a passion area of mine and such an important component of the college experience,” explains Cross. “It is vitally important for students, especially those who may lack social capital, to learn how to leverage their natural talents and strengths into professional skills, which will ultimately add value to their professional brand and make them more competitive when entering the job market.”
In addition to the Leadership Council positions, HEOP has also created an Office Manager and Intern role, which allows interested students to learn basic managerial, operational and programmatic skills, while also collaborating with other HEOP para-professional staff members on specific projects. All of the para-professional student staff members gain important skills through their assigned projects and through an encouraged collaborative environment. “Learning to work with different personalities and leadership styles is an important soft skill that should always be encouraged amongst young adults,” adds Cross.
The HEOP Work-Study and Research Assistant position is not new to the HEOP Department but has been integrated into the new student staff cohort to receive the same training and professional development as other staff members. The WS/RA student works on tasks including reaching out to HEOP alumni and others as assigned.
The HEOP at MMC has also re-launched The Young Men’s Initiative (YMI), created by former HEOP Counselor Keith Windsor, to assist with recruitment for the Program. The mission has since been expanded to include retention and graduation of the self-identified men of HEOP. The YMI cohort meets on a regular basis to discuss various topics, which are led by Michael Salmon, Assistant Vice President and Dean of the Center for Academic Excellence. “Today, young men of color are an endangered species across college campuses in America,” says Salmon. “Here at MMC, of the 50 students in HEOP, there are only 9 men – less than 20%! We started the YMI with the explicit goal of seeing how we can better recruit, engage, retain and graduate men of color within our program. This is a critical imperative to which I am totally committed.”