Time to LEAD: Leadership Exploration & Discovery

May 23, 2017
2017-05-16.1 UNCG.April Dunston & Carol Torres

Rodney Johnson, Program Coordinator, Minority Male Success Initiative (MMSI)

Habits of a Minority Male Leader

Beliefs as a Leader
“When I think about leaders throughout history, leaders such as Martin Luther King, Fred Hampton, Robert Edwards, and Shirley Chisholm, I think about how they all had an ability to motivate the people around them to believe that they were capable of more than what the labels society placed on them allowed.” Rodney Johnson’s reflections on leaders highlight his belief that a true leader can motivate, can lead others to believe in possibilities, despite disparities or complications they may have faced in life. This also describes the influential young leader Rodney himself has become. An alumnus of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), Rodney works with minority students who have been overlooked by the school system their whole lives. He was first exposed to facilitation and community building in college, working as a student reflection leader at UNCG for two semesters and as a research assistant in the Greensboro Participatory Budgeting Project. These experiences gave him the skills needed for his current position—including public speaking, data collection, and facilitation.

Minority Male Success Initiative (MMSI)
Upon graduation Rodney was hired by Piedmont Community College to coordinate a new program designed by the North Carolina Community College System (NCCC), called the Minority Male Success Initiative (MMSI). The goals of this initiative are to strengthen minority male student outcomes and to encourage participation and collaboration among student participants and institutional departments. As a program coordinator, Rodney is in charge of recruiting, designing cultural enrichment activities, workshops, and connecting his participants with the necessary support services that they need to successfully navigate the community college system. Rodney emphasized his belief that participants are truly their own leaders because they take the first steps to be a part of the program and to lead themselves in a positive direction.

“This program is not about statistics or numbers,” he says, “but it’s about the actual participants and how they are personally affected by the program. It’s more rewarding that the students are learning skills that will remain with them for the rest of their lives.” That said, there are standards in place to rate the program’s effectiveness. MMSI success is described in terms of academic growth as measured on overall GPA and successful hour completion. An annual report on program outcomes is submitted to NCCC, which determines program funding and makes grant renewal decisions.

Final Thoughts
Rodney hopes that through the institution and continuous community support for the program he can establish a long-lasting program that meets the individual needs of 2017-05-16.2 UNCG.April Dunston & Carol Torresparticipants. His wish is that students’ academic goals—and ultimately their life aspirations—are achieved. In other words, if Rodney succeeds in his own goals as a leader, then every MMSI participant will also be a leader as he defines it, or “… someone who can motivate a person to believe that they are capable of the impossible, capable of doing what others have said they can’t, capable of following their dreams and making them into a reality.”

April Dunston & Carol Torres


lighthouse2Time to LEAD features the voices of Communication Studies students at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG). Students offer diverse perspectives on what it means to be a leader and share reflections on their experiences. Join us for this weekly series on leadership, exploration and discovery in today’s society.

Today’s post was submitted by April Dunston and Carol Torres

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