Black Men Excellence Network hosts conference to inspire minorities in higher education

The goal was to understand some issues students faced on campus like trying to find mentors who can help assist undergraduate students with their studies who may have a hard time transitioning to schools like Virginia Tech.

BLACKSBURG (WSLS 10) - Virginia Tech leaders are taking strides to make the campus more diverse.

Students involved with Black Men Excellence Network hosted the Uplifting Black Men Conference in an effort to shed light on issues minorities face at the school.

The goal was to understand some issues students faced on campus like trying to find mentors who can help assist undergraduate students with their studies who may have a hard time transitioning to schools like Virginia Tech.

Enrollment numbers show few African American men are choosing Virginia Tech for higher education.

Joseph Owusu is a junior, and is currently enjoying his academic career at the university, but says it was hard becoming a Hokie.

His biggest challenge, often times being the only minority in a classroom.

"Its annoying when you have racial based discussion class, because sometimes I am asked the question I have to represent the entire race," Owusu said.

Organizers in the group said the goal of the conference is get the community aware of issues men like Owusu face in higher education so they don't leave the school.

"Making sure those students are successful here making sure they have a great time here and making sure they are setup for success," Tommy Amal, the chair of Black Men Excellence said.

There are nearly 31,000 students who attend Tech, out of that, about 1,100 are African Americans which equates to about 4% of the entire student population.

Doctor Terrell Strayhorn, was the keynote speaker at today's conference.

As a Virginia Tech alumnus he spoke about issues he faced like feeling isolated because of the lack of African American males at Tech.

Strayhorn is glad leaders are pushing to having more inclusion on campus.

"Diversity doesn't benefit people of color it benefits all of us, we think more, we're more creative we have different mindsets when we engage people who are different from ourselves, he said.

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