PRINCE GEORGE COUNTY, Va. — The Diverse Male Student Initiative or DMSI is a two-year program at Prince Georges Community College that’s helping men of color find resources, passion and purpose through mentorship.
Brian “Heat” Hamlin is the Program Manager for DMSI.
He said, “DMSI is about 99% relationship.”
The program focuses on self-improvement, preps and empowers male students to assume leadership roles.
Hamlin said, “In 2008 to 2009, we saw men of color, the numbers of men of color going to college was increasing, but their graduation rate was declining. Prince George's Community College wanted to be ahead of the curve and really started making a program to help that graduation rate increase as the enrollment increased as well."
Hamlin said you can chalk up low graduation rates for young men of color to two things, lack of financial resources and lack of support from home.
“It's a financial commitment. It's a financial resource you may not have access to, or you may not have that, that superior focus at home of help you get through those four years. So, I think that's what ends up happening to a lot of college students,” he said.
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Julian Flemmons is new to DMSI and said DMSI has taught him to recognize the importance of self-care and the value of relationships with others, specially those with other black men the community.
Flemmons said, "It's changed my mindset for achieving my goals, when I came in, I was a little bit unconfident in myself, wasn't sure of myself, wasn't really focused and disciplined enough to achieve some of my goals. It's a great program has helped me in so many ways."
Hamlin added, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."
DMSI focuses on helping students with their academic achievement, getting students ready for business or careers and leadership development.
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Male students are encouraged to participate in Diverse Male Student Initiative if they're currently enrolled at Prince George’s Community College, have leadership potential, are willing to complete the entire year-long program, and have a desire to:
- Complete their education;
- Enhance their leadership and career skills;
- Gain hands-on community experience;
- Develop personal growth and character;
- Reach their educational goals;
- Participate in community affairs; and
- Volunteer achievement and leadership at the occupational, personal or community level.
Hamlin said, "...and so when it comes to DMSI number one is my job in my mentors is to get to know the young men beyond the grades beyond the major, who are you? And how can we best serve your needs. If you're not doing well, personally, you're not going to do well academically, you're not going to do well, personally, if that personal foundation is not in place."
Hamlin said what's amazing about PGCC is the collaboration on campus and the support from the various programs.
He added, "Prince George's County College is one of the hands down best community colleges in the state, if not the East Coast."
According to DMSI, each year anywhere from 75 to 150 young men of color go through the program and about 2,000 young men have gone through it since it started in 2010.
Hamlin said in 2019, DMSI pulled in a quarter of a million dollars in scholarship money to help about 15 young men graduate.