Corporate mentors help black college students. Program not only provides a scholarship, but also a volunteer to each participant

C. JEROME GOUDELOCK, a young man attending a ``no name'' black college in a small Georgia town, recently enjoyed a lifetime first: a visit to New York City that combined education with business with pleasure. ``I never really thought I could go to college,'' says Mr. Goudelock, who finished his sophomore year at Paine College in Augusta, Ga., this past spring. ``And here I am in the big city, New York, hobnobbing with college presidents, top bank officials, and students from all over the country. I'll never forget my college days.''

Goudelock is one of 80 students in the UNCF-Citicorp Fellows Program who attended the group's third annual conference. The program is cosponsored by the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) - a group of 42 accredited private black colleges - and Citicorp, a national banking firm that includes Citibank, the nation's largest bank. Guest also included his mentor, Daniel Dean, a Citicorp vice-president assigned to Atlanta.

The Fellows Program is unique, a pilot project that creates a partnership between a corporation and black colleges. Designed to send more black students to college, the program awards scholarships ($2,500 each annually for four years, usually half the cost of tuition and room and board at most UNCF schools) and provides a mentor to each student enrolled.

Mentors - who may be of any race - range from top executives such as H.Carl McCall, a vice-president, to Beverly Harvey, an assistant manager and first-time mentor from Pittsford, N.Y., a suburb of Rochester. Mr. McCall, a New Yorker and former politician and journalist-turned-banker, is mentor to Tellis Williams, a student at Livingstone College in Salisbury, N.C.

Ms. Harvey read about the men^toring program in the Citicorp Reporter. ``I checked with my superiors,'' she says. ``They supported me, and I chose Anita Farrell. I've visited her at Spelman College [in Atlanta]. If I can help her succeed, I'll be overjoyed.''

Miss Farrell, of Ridgeland, S.C., has completed her freshman year as a prelaw student at Spelman. ``I certainly didn't know what to expect from a mentor,'' she says. ``She's more than a mentor; she's an unsung hero, a friend.'' Both say they have had a rewarding year together.

Suzanne Brown of Citicorp in New York is a ``big sister'' to Carol Smith of White Plains, N.Y., whose church, Union Baptist, helped send her to Le Moyne-Owen College in Memphis, Tenn. Miss Smith calls her mentor ``a good role model who wants me to express my opinion. She offers me helpful guidance, too.''

F.Karl Zavitkovsky of Dallas, a vice-president in real estate, who works with Sharon Gordon at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, calls his mentoring ``my commitment to the community, to people who can use my help.''

Some mentors travel many miles to touch base with students - Philip J. Trovato, Citicorp Credit Service vice-president in North Kansas City, Miss., helps Charles Randall of Wiley College; Cynthia Ashby, a branch manager in Long Island City, N.Y. works with Angela Overstreet of Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C.; Melvin Clark, a vice-president in Los Angeles, helps Christopher Polk of Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Miss., for example.

Mentors also advise students on how to spend summers, whether in study or working. They do not get jobs for students, but they teach them how to apply and interview for jobs.

The mentoring program is so effective that they recommend the idea to other corporations, say its two leaders, William J. Heron Jr., consumer group executive of Citicorp/Citibank, and Virgil E. Ecton, executive vice-president and chief officer of the UNCF. They were co-hosts to the fellows, their mentors, and their families for a weekend of workshops, celebration, and recreation as a reward for success during the 1986-87 school year.

They welcomed 20 new freshmen to the program and the other 60 student participants to complete the first phase of the project. This gives the program its first full contingent of 80 students on campuses during the 1987-88 school year.

``A special chemistry has developed in the pairing of Citicorp officials with students,'' Mr. Heron says. ``The mentor gets as much, maybe more, out of it as the student. At the same time, this is good business for us. We work closely with the UNCF which was not getting its colleges as close to potential students as it desired. I think other corporations could set up models like this one or in their own way.

``This is an impact program which has a great future. It does not cost a lot of money, and it avoids the grinding bureaucratic process.''

``We have seen no better example of corporate responsibility than this fellows program,'' says Mr. Ecton. ``Each fellow gets a scholarship and a mentor. Our first graduates will receive their degrees next spring. This program has sown very well.''

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
QR Code to Corporate mentors help black college students. Program not only provides a scholarship, but also a volunteer to each participant
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today