Colleges are a place for learning, growing, development and social exposure. This barely scratches the surface for what college has to offer its students. One aspect of college is that they universally offer programs. Study abroad programs, career preparatory programs, social and academic assistance programs. The list goes on and on. Though the UNO may not be known for any particular programs, there are certainly some hidden gems.
MoMENtum is an organization that was spearheaded by former alumni. Over the past spring, summer and fall semesters, with the help of Mr. Taryan and a handful of extremely devoted individuals, this organization has begun to find its legs. During their first official “Pizza Thursday” meeting, the organization discussed various topics mostly deemed important in the pursuit of the organization’s main goal.
As I was looking to get involved in something on campus, the organization’s three capital letters stood out to me through a plethora of initial welcome emails. I attended the first meeting back in October. Though late to the game, I quickly became aware of what the organization is actually about.
“MEN,” obviously catches the eye when reading the organization name“moMENtum.” This choice is far from just aesthetic purposes. The group seeks out young men — specifically, but certainly not limited to, men of color. The organization hopes to help in any way, shape or form a young person’s life.
One of the moMentum directors, Dr. Ian Scott, gives a clearer picture of how and why those leaders of the organization want to help young men of color. He says, “The goal is for retention and helping students persist on to graduation, specifically the African American population. There’s a mentorship component.” This involves UNO alumni and other “prominent” figures in the city expounding upon what it’s like in the professional world as an African American male.
Later, Dr. Scott discusses another component, explaining, “We want to incorporate a community service project.” The four members ahead of the program are truly dedicated and trying to make a difference. The club offers weekly sessions where young African students and students alike can come together and discuss various issues or situations going on in their lives. Moreover, this sort of continuous atmosphere creates a community among the members, one that’s built on a foundation of looking out for one another. “We want these students to know that there are people who are out there that are here for them and want to see them succeed.” With a foundation like this, the organization is creating a safe, inspiring and valuable community through its members.
Lastly, Dr. Scott hits on a truly resonating and impactful point. He explains that there has been a racial stigma as it relates to African Americans, which many argue has played a role in the difficulty of existing as an African American.
This fuels organizations like MoMENtum to “change the narrative,” as Dr. Scott calls it. Understanding that the global issue may not be solved directly by their hand, but the change is “one person’s” life can not only impact that person tremendously but simultaneously counter the negative perception that has been attached to African American men for too long.