Lifting students to graduation


Every Wednesday, students meet and attend the Uplift Program here at Norwalk Community College in East 205 to make choices about their futures.

Al Thomas and Curtis Antrum are founders of the Uplift Program. They both are adjunct professors and work full-time at NCC. Thomas is a financial aid counselor. Antrum is associate director of admissions.

“Our mission is to recruit, retain and graduate men of color,” Thomas said, who teaches public speaking courses and college forums part-time.

The program consist of students of African descent. However,  Thomas said other nationalities are invited.

“Anyone is can be a part of it,” he said.

Todd Hamptons, who works full-time in NCC’s library, joined the group on Oct. 21. He was asked by Thomas and Antrum to be part it of the program.

“they actually started with the group … a year or so,” said Hamptons.

Thomas said there are Hispanics and people of African descent in the program. He further explained why he doesn’t say African American because it limits to a specific population in the group.

The program started about three semesters ago (around fall 2008). There are about 30 people whose attended the program this semester. And among those students have met at different times with 16 individuals returning previous semester(s), according to Thomas.

“There are people from Africa, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Jamaica,” said Thomas.      On that day, Thomas spoke to students, telling them their goals were reachable. He quoted from one of his fraternity brothers.

“It’s better to write your name on front of the check instead of the back of the check,” Thomas quoted.

In other words, the quote explained that people who own businesses make bigger bucks than their employees.

Students listened attendively to Thomas while he spoke.

Hamptons, who considered himself as an advisor and/or mentor, mentioned the availability of meeting with students for pep talks.

“If they want to talk to me, I’m here,” he said.

Eight males and one female, nine people in total, who discussed the recent murder of UCONN football player Jasper Howard, which brought up the topic of black on black crimes in the community. Thomas advised the students of African descent to learn their professors’ names. Then he explained to them to meet their teachers during office hours for further advisement. There were about seven students present that day and only three raised their hands in response to meeting up with their professors. 

Thomas talked about his past as a student in college struggling in Spanish. He referred to the phrase “camped out” at his Spanish teacher’s office emphasizing his diligence to excel in that subject.

His anecdotal and/or testimony was to encourage students to spend some time with their professors. He talked to students about persistence.

In addition, they covered topics such as giving back to community, facing humility (in the work place) and choosing to do the right thing; also tribulation in history with different nationalities such as Jews, Greeks and African American.

Hamptons believe that the program has the possibility to bond students together.

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