BMEN program at UAB celebrates 10 years

A peer mentoring group for black male students, BMEN is designed to provide academic and social support to those entering UAB.

Video produced by: UAB Visual Content

The Blazer Male Excellence Network at the University of Alabama at Birmingham celebrated its first 10 years by honoring those who gave so much to its students.

bmen 2 18 streamBobby Ijeoma, left, and Oladele Osisami A peer mentoring group for black male students, BMEN is designed to provide academic and social support to those students entering UAB. BMEN’s overall goal is to improve the quality of life for a new student, both by partnering him with a returning student, and by staff providing information on navigating the collegiate experience inside and outside of the classroom. The student-mentors are selected each spring and go through extensive training. Faculty and staff members and professionals from the community are invited to work with the group.

At the program’s gala event, emceed by WBRC Fox 6 anchor Steve Crocker on Saturday, Feb. 17, recognition as BMEN’s Campus Champion was given to Louis Dale, Ph.D., professor emeritus of mathematics and retired vice president of Equity and Diversity. Honored as Community Champions were Saks Fifth Avenue men’s fashion consultants David Rivers, Tavaris Handley and Marvin Harrell. Each year, the consultants host BMEN students and open the store to them for customized workshops, etiquette lessons, wardrobe consultations and more.

The program’s first director, Executive Director of Undergraduate Student Success and Retention Tracy Lyons, Ph.D., and BMEN staff Thomas Alexander and Cynthia Scott were honored as BMEN Trailblazers, along with the students who wrote the original proposal for the program, Terrance Wallace, Kendrick Lightfoot, Michael Chambers II and the late Vincent Brown. Also honored were the professors who taught the BMEN class, Assistant Professor of African American Studies DeReef Jamison, Ph.D., and Professor of Mathematics Mubenga Nkashama, Ph.D., both in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Michael Brooks, Ph.D.

Students who excel in the classroom, campus and community may earn the group’s Green Blazers. These students are BMEN leaders, active in campus organizations, leaders in the community and highly respected by their peers.

This year, students Oladele Osisami and Bobby Ijeoma were awarded Green Blazers. Osisami was born in London, England, and came to the United States as a child. Osisami is a senior in UAB Honors College, majoring in biology with minors in chemistry and psychology. He works as the undergraduate research assistant for the School of Nursing. Upon graduation, he plans to attend medical school to get his M.D./MBA and become a psychiatrist.

Ijeoma is a senior from Marietta, Georgia. His parents are immigrants from Nigeria. He is a senior chemistry major with minors in biology, philosophy and Spanish. He is in the Early Medical School Acceptance Program and UAB Honors College University Honors Program.

Dean’s List

Alan Atkins, Emmanuel Dean, Max Edema, Jaden Jackson, Darius Johnson, Quincy Lacy Jr., Stanley Martin, Joshua Scott, Trevor Stewart, Booker Taylor III, Ronald Taylor, Curtis Vannor

Presidential Honors

Jeremy Blackmon, Chandler Flanigan, Bobby Ijeoma, Michael Liptrot, John Roberts, Dreson Russell

Spring 2018 Graduates

Victor Arrington, Jacorey Barker, Jeremy Blackmon, Larry Carter, Dereck Cyrus II, Josiah Holsey, Bobby Ijeoma, Neal James, Darius Johnson, Alex Jones, Oladele Osisami, Terence Parks, Micah Patterson, Zackery Perry, Devante Richardson, John Roberts, Eryn Robbins, Fred Robinson, Booker Taylor III

The 10-year anniversary of the BMEN program is an important milestone for black men at UAB, says Christopher Jones, director of Student Multicultural and Diversity Programs.

“Even though higher education has taken notice of the plight of black men on our campuses, very few universities have made a sustainable effort to address this issue,” Jones said. “UAB has been supporting black men through BMEN for 10 years, and that should be celebrated.”

Many students from the program have gone on to be very successful, Jones says, from students now enrolled in the schools of Dentistry, Medicine and Health Professions, to graduates who have gone on to be successful entrepreneurs, lawyers and business people. 

“This is just the beginning of witnessing the amazing outcomes the program has had for its participants,” he said. “UAB should be applauded for its commitment, and I am proud to have played a role in the growth and development of this initiative.”