Roxbury Community College is committed to ensuring that every student who matriculates can feel successful. RCC’s SUCCESS (Supporting Urgent Community College Equity Through Student Services) Program is part of the Commonwealth’s overall SUCCESS initiative to support underserved and historically underrepresented students. SUCCESS at RCC supports English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), Men of Color, LGBTQ+ students, and other students who could benefit from wrap-around supports that will keep them on track for retention and graduation.
Through the SUCCESS Program, RCC brought in Dropout Academy founder and CEO Kurt Faustin to run a six-week mental health and emotional wellness program at RCC. “We were looking for more ways to create impact and expand our program offerings on campus for men of color,” says RCC Dean of Students Robyn Shahid-Bellot. “The workshops were exactly what our students needed.” Sessions run 90 minutes, with each focusing on a different issue including goal setting, developing a growth mindset, and financial literacy.
Faustin began Dropout Academy in 2020 to address a gap he saw in education. “We’re not giving people the tools they need to be successful,” he says. “Education isn’t just about memorizing dates; you need to manage your mindset. The main source of emotional intelligence is self-awareness, self-management, empathy, and relationship building.” RCC is the first college he’s worked with. Some of the 24 RCC students who will complete the program in December will serve as mentors for the next cohort of students who will participate next semester.
This is the third time RCC engineering student Lloyd Cayman, 33, of Weymouth has attempted to get his college degree. He had to leave school twice before because of challenges involved with providing for his young daughter. Taking the Dropout Academy workshop has given him clarity about his goals. “They help you open up to see what your plans are and give you a better understanding about what you’re trying to pursue,” he says. “It inspires you not to drop out and gives you hope and understanding that you can keep going.” Cayman expects to earn his associate degree at RCC in 2024. He wants to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and eventually own an e-commerce business.
RCC student Roy Kalu, 20, of Lynn has family and friends who have struggled with their mental health. He appreciates how Dropout Academy is an outlet for expression. “Many men of color aren't too fond of speaking their mind when they're dealing with difficult tasks. They keep it to themselves,” he says. “But here we can share these difficulties amongst people that are dealing with the same problems or different problems.” The captain of RCC’s basketball team is looking forward to being a mentor to future Dropout Academy students. “I would love to share knowledge and help other people succeed,” he added. Kalu is graduating with an associate degree in Information Systems Technology in the spring of 2023 and plans to pursue further educational opportunities.