By Oscar Huerta, April 18, 2023
Male students from various racial and ethnic backgrounds gathered at Cal Poly Pomona for a two-day retreat held from March 17 to 18 in order to connect with each other and learn about the struggles they share with their fellow men of color.
CPP’s Male Success Initiatives hosted the event in the CLA and College of Business Administration Buildings and invited male students from CPP and other California State Universities to participate in several networking activities and lectures discussing self-confidence and self-worth.
According to MSI Director Joel Gutierrez, the most important goal of this retreat was to get students to build relationships with other men of color.
“I wanted students, specifically men of color, to know that they’re not alone,” Gutierrez said. “I think that was the other goal to know that, for CPP men of color, you also have brothers in other CSUs.”
One of the retreat’s activities was a lecture on identifying and dismantling imposter syndrome, which Markease Harris, a computer science student from CSU Dominguez Hills, said heavily resonated with him.
“This work that everyone is doing is extremely essential to help these men of color grow into better men, help understand themselves, find community on campus and find community within themselves,” Harris said. “It’s essential and necessary to help cultivate the minds of the next generation, and I’m very grateful for this work.”
John Offenburger Espinoza, a master’s student of the business administration program at CPP and returning member of MSI, said having a supportive community of men of color through MSI helped him overcome his imposter syndrome and start taking leadership roles on campus.
“Having someone say something like ‘I know you are good enough, I know you can’ — that’s gold,” Offenburger said. “Sometimes you don’t even need material stuff and money, sometimes you need those words. Somebody that can vouch for you.”
Students from Cal State Dominguez Hills and Cal State Fullerton joined the conference and greeted their fellow men of color from CPP on the second day of the event.
The second day of the event also featured an alumni panel with four CPP alumni who came to the event to give their advice to students. One of the members of the panel was Jacob Quetant, an alumni from the class of 2009, who further stressed the importance of forming relationships alongside your education in college.
“You can sit in a room and people can lecture, and you can either be locked in and listening or your attention can drift,” Quetant said. “But who you’re sitting next to, to your left and to your right and even who you might be listening to lecture, if you have the courage to speak up and create a relationship, there’s no telling where that relationship can lead you to.”
According to Gutierrez, MSI specifically contacted CPP alumni from the Latino and Black alumni network because those groups of men need the most help finding connections for careers in higher fields. Gutierrez stated they wanted to provide these students with a panel of CPP alumni who have “walked their path” and could help them navigate their journey through college.
After many activities and lectures, the event capped off with one final group picture and a reminder from the event leaders to stay connected with one another.
According to Gutierrez, the idea for this retreat came from students in MSI, who pitched the concept in a staff meeting and worked with MSI’s senior coordinators to help make the event happen.
Gutierrez stated MSI’s goal is to continue providing men of color at CPP opportunities to connect and grow with each other through their various programs and social events.
“For me, MSI has a responsibility to allow men of color here at Cal Poly Pomona to see themselves.” Gutierrez said. “We have a responsibility to create spaces where students of color — men of color — belong.”
Feature image by Oscar Huerta
Show Comments (0)