What’s Behind the Success of Students of Color at Oakland University?

Jake Neher/WDET

Oakland University Senior Alex Currington (left) with OU Director of our Center for Multicultural Initiatives Omar Brown-El (right)

In a post-Affirmative Action world, our universities have had to wrestle with many difficult questions about what makes a complete learning experience for all students, and how students can be best served as they head out into the real world.

One of our universities seems to be getting some of the answers to these tough questions right.

Oakland University’s six-year graduation rate among it’s minority student population is higher than its overall student body, and students of color have an overall higher grade point average.

Officials at OU say that’s because of a highly successful program of support they’ve created to bolster the potential of the school’s minority students.

It’s called the Oakland University Trustee Academic Success Program, and provides financial, academic, career, and social support.

Oakland senior student Alex Currington, who is African American, says being the only black student in a classroom can be overwhelming.

Navigating it can be tricky at times,” says Currington. But, he says, OUTAS provides a place on campus where he is supported. 

Oakland University

It really serves as a source of comfort and support.”

Omar Brown-El is the the director of our Center for Multicultural Initiatives at OU. He says a large part of ensuring students are successful is making sure they’re connected with faculty, alumni, and each other.

We feel like those connections to the campus are primarily why students are so successful,” says Brown-El.

[We’re] building a strong foundation for students, particularly in their first year.”

Currington agrees that getting students engaged early is critical. He says Brown-El was a real mentor in his life, and he hopes he can follow Brown-El’s lead and become a mentor to future students.

By the end of my freshman year I wanted to give back in the way he gave to me,” says Currington.

I was able to really bloom and thrive at Oakland University.”

To hear more about Oakland University’s efforts to support the minority population on campus, click on the audio player above.

Jake Neher/WDET

Omar Brown-El (left) with Alex Currington (right)


Image credit: Oakland University

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