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Brothers & Keepers Coordinator Passionate to Help Others Succeed

February 2022
  • Jeffry Wright-Hall
    Brothers & Keepers Coordinator Jeffry Wright-Hall

While QCC is committed to 100% student success, one area the College is working to improve upon is its enrollment and retention of male students, specifically men of color. Nationally, enrollment and retention rates for men of color have been decreasing and the pandemic has only exacerbated this situation. QCC’s Brothers & Keepers Program is working to change this trend by helping students who identify as male, to gain confidence and skills so they can succeed at QCC and beyond.

Leading the program is Jeffry Wright-Hall, former part-time advisor to the program who was recently promoted to the full-time coordinator. Jeffry is originally from Jamaica. He immigrated to the U.S. in 2015 because in Jamaica, being gay is criminalized and he wanted to live his life without fear of going to jail or being physically harmed. He eventually ended up in Massachusetts, a state he respects due to its focus on education and its gay-friendly policies.

Jeffry experienced first-hand how support systems can offer people the foundation and skills to lift themselves out of difficult situations. When he arrived in Massachusetts, a church group set him up with a place to stay and through this experience, he heard about and enrolled in a free community health worker course with the Department of Public Health. This set him on a path of community-focused work for the City of Worcester and UMass Medical School. Jeffry said he enjoyed the work but when he saw QCC’s posting for a Brothers & Keepers advisor, he knew it was the role for him.

“I knew I had the skills and expertise…and could connect with this population. I’m happy that I get to do what I love,” he said.

Brothers & Keepers is a holistic support system that addresses any areas that might affect academic success, such as work or personal issues. Participants can meet with Jeffry every other week for a one-on-one session.

“We sit down and talk about whatever issues they want to go over. I try to see where the problem is and figure out what support they need from me. It could be on campus because we do have a lot of resources, but it could also be in the community,” he said, adding that sometimes one-on-one sessions are just to catch up. “They will come in between classes and chill, talk, laugh, listen to music. My office is your office.”

Brothers & Keepers also puts on events such as motivational speeches from local businessmen, politicians, and community members. People such as Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy at Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, Alex Guardiola, and two of Worcester’s Councilors, Khrystian King and Sean Rose have already spoken to the group.

Jeffry said he does these events so students can see that, “Hey, there is someone that looks like me and if they did it, I can do it too.’ It motivates you and pushes you to higher heights.”

Jeffry stresses the importance of networking to his group and uses these speaking events to encourage students to make connections that could lead to an internship or employment opportunity. He knows how the balance between school and work is an extremely important factor for student success, so when he’s connecting them with job opportunities, he makes sure it will fit with their school schedule.

Other QCC program coordinators have spoken to the group, such as Manager for Student Resources Bonnie Coleman, who gave them the scoop on the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the HomePlate Food Pantry. Director of Mentoring and Perkins Gabe Santner filled them in on the benefits of the mentoring program. Jeffry’s goal this semester is to get everyone in Brothers & Keepers to sign up for a mentor.

One student who has become a very active member of the program told Jeffry that when he started college, he didn’t think it was the place for him. However, Brothers & Keepers motivated him so much that he advocated for himself when scheduling classes, and increased his course load because he knew he could handle more of a challenge.

For anyone interested in joining Brothers & Keepers, there are upcoming information sessions on Tuesday, February 4, 1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m., and 2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. in B61A (on QCC’s Main Campus, 670 West Boylston St. Worcester in the Administration Building).

Participants are also planning to tour Worcester Historical Museum for Black History Month on Friday, February 25, followed by a group dinner.

For more information, email Jeffry Wright-Hall at jwright [at] qcc.mass.edu, call 508.854.4503 or stop by 162A.  

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