By Justyn Fulton, Mar. 9, 2021
Tyree Vance, senior coordinator for The League at Cal Poly Pomona, used his adolescent struggles and lack of a father figure to mold his career and purpose at CPP to empower men of color.
The League, which Vance helped found, works to increase college access and a sense of belonging for men of color on campus, improving retention and graduation rates
“I was called here,” Vance said. “I have purpose here to help people in meaningful, rich ways.”
This spring, Vance and his team are revamping The League to expand into the personal lives of its participants by fostering their desire to create better lives for their families.
“We are just in the beginning stages,” Vance said. “By the summer, The League will be different. This program is going to indirectly affect these young men’s families.”
According to Vance, The League will be expanding in membership with the creation of more programs and more community events such as more #MenofColor Kickbacks and conferences with keynote speakers.
When Vance first arrived at CPP in fall 2019, he served as the interim coordinator of the African American Student Center. He served in this position for almost a year before he helped create The League.
The League started the 2020-2021 school year with several student events, such as League Week Kickoff, Men of Color Research Panel and #MENofCOLOR Kickbacks. These events aimed to build a community for men of color at CPP.
“I want to be an asset for young brothers,” Vance said, “I know you work hard for the community, so let’s create the change that the students want to see.”
Growing up, Vance encountered numerous struggles, constantly fighting an uphill battle. According to Vance, there was a lack of positive male role models early in his life; the only father figure influence he had was negative. Instead, the only guidance Vance had was from women in his life, like his mother, aunt and grandmother.
“My uncles weren’t working, on drugs,” Vance said. “My dad was in and out of my life; I didn’t see him work.”
It wasn’t until Vance reached his college years at Cal State San Bernardino where he sought a positive role model that was a man of color. There, Vance met his mentor Tyrone Bledsoe, the founder of Student African American Brotherhood. Bledsoe taught Vance how to handle adulthood as a man of color.
“Dr. Bledsoe is a father figure to me,” Vance said. “That had a powerful presence that helped me grow.”
Vance then went on to establish a Student African American Brotherhood Chapter at San Bernardino. This initiative guided him through the remaining of his undergraduate career. Today, Vance is a proud first-generation African American college graduate with two bachelors’ degrees, one in psychology and another in human development.
According to Vance, the lack of older men to rely on in his own life is why he is so determined to create a brotherhood with The League events and guide young men of color who need help.
“I was searching for a model to pull me into manhood because I knew I didn’t have the answers,” Vance said.
Along with The League staff, Vance has begun planting seeds of success in students and The League will continue to support men of color at CPP.
Vance hopes that The League and what it stands for will spark other men of color initiatives throughout universities in Southern California and eventually nationwide.
Vance has been on the record advocating for young men’s success on campus, and creating leaders in higher education.
“You are seen and heard for who you are because there are a lot of voices out here that can drown yours,” Vance said. “You belong here at our campus.”
Students may contact firstname.lastname@example.org or The League’s Instagram page at @cpp_theleague to find information on upcoming events such as the Men of Color Virtual Summit: Planting Seeds for Success on March 19.
Feature image courtesy of Tyree Vance.
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