It was a deep desire to affect change, create something beyond themselves, and make a difference in the lives of other men of color during their Spring Hill College experience that spurred Jamal Encalade ’17 and a handful of others to act and create the Men of Color Council Legacy Chapter.
The Council’s mission focuses not only on providing a voice to minority students and increasing the diversity of social programming on campus, but on impacting all areas of Spring Hill College from recruitment to advancement.
The group is open to male students of any race or ethnicity, and members are required to also hold a leadership role in another campus organization such as SGA or the SpringHillian Ambassadors. Founding members include Travis Cummings ’17, Brandon Myers ’18, Derrick Robbins ’17, Syrus Slater ’17 and Joshua Moore ’17, and the group has received more than 11 new membership applications this year alone.
“This isn’t about today; this is about tomorrow,” Encalade said. “This is about students being able to have a voice. This is about younger students now coming in and seeing themselves in leadership roles on campus.”
The Men of Color Council is a nonprofit organization that began in 2003 at Cornell University. The Spring Hill chapter, in its second full year, was the first to be established at a different institution. According to Encalade, the Spring Hill chapter has its own mission, and its focus rests on cultivating and maintaining a unified network of minority males by emphasizing the importance of brotherhood, service, and academic and professional development.
“Our chapter needs to represent the Jesuit ideals that Spring Hill stands for. I want us to be active and have a say in the direction the school goes in because it’s about making sure that Spring Hill is a beautiful place for everyone,” Encalade adds.
“We have our own agenda of things we are trying to accomplish to benefit students of color, but at the end of the day, our mission would be void if we weren’t trying to enrich our Spring Hill community,” said Jamal Encalade ’17, co-founder and chairman of the Council.
The group is accomplishing this by working closely with a wide variety of campus departments and leaders. Kendrick Dunklin, council staff advisor and director of admissions, has been involved with the group since its inception and said he feels the organization is a needed addition on campus.
As a graduate of Spring Hill, Dunklin understands the situation firsthand. “My goal is to have students come to Spring Hill and have a true college experience -- not feel like they have to be uncomfortable because of who they are -- and not have to try to struggle to find something to do on campus,” Dunklin said.
“The young men involved in the Council are incredible role models. And they’re holding people around campus accountable for looking at certain issues. These young men are standing up and asking us to look at how we’re treating --not just black men -- but how we’re treating all minority students on campus and how we treat minorities in the world,” Dunklin said.
Encalade and other members of the Council see administrative and institutional buy-in as key to their impact on campus. At the beginning of the current academic year, the Council added Jeremy Moore, director of career services at the college, as a second staff advisor to help with the professional development aspect of the mission.
The group’s impact on the student body is evident from its work on social programming, such as coffee breaks, talent show, and unity demonstrations. Members have even taken up the topic of more diverse class offerings with professors and the provost’s office. “The Council affects both recruitment and retention by providing a much-needed resource for minority students to identify with,” said Robert Stewart, Spring Hill College’s vice president of enrollment.
The Council’s reach extends far beyond the campus, however. Rooted in Spring Hill’s commitment to service, members participate in visits to area nursing homes and partner with local schools on community engagement initiatives from mentoring programs to college exposures programs. And Encalade stresses the power of philanthropy and alumni support with MOCC members. “Our members must realize that in order for the organization to last, they have to support the college after graduation,” he notes.
And involvement with the national council extends the group’s commitment to leadership even further. Spring Hill currently has two representatives on the newly formed alumni board for the national council: Encalade serves as the director of membership and expansion and Travis Cummings ’17 is its director of communications.
MOCC members pictured above: front row: Quendarius Roberts '17, Syrus Slater '17, Brandon Myers '18, and Travis Cummings '17; back row: Jamal Encalade '17, Kameron Powell '19, and Joshua Moore '17.