Aspire Brings a Community to African-American Students

Mt. SAC’s Aspire Program strives to give resources and support to the school’s African-American student population

ASPIRE+students+Aaron+Davis+and+Brianna+De%E2%80%99Lynn+sit+in+front+of+the+ASPIRE+front+desk+in+the+Mt.+SAC+Equity+Center.+Photo+credit%3A+Destany+Anderson%2FSAC.Media.

ASPIRE students Aaron Davis and Brianna De’Lynn sit in front of the ASPIRE front desk in the Mt. SAC Equity Center. Photo credit: Destany Anderson/SAC.Media.

The Aspire Program on campus offers African American students support, resources and guidance to achieve their academic and future goals.

In addition to the support, students can find community and connection with their peers, as well as workshops.

“The workshops on campus help to integrate students into the Mt. San Antonio College campus,” Director of Aspire Clarence Banks, 39, said. “The program helps the students to learn how to navigate with different departments outside of Aspire.”

The Aspire program also provides students with the tools for life. Banks said, “Teaching them how to fish, instead of just giving them fish.”

The Aspire program at Mt. SAC was first founded in 2007 to 2008. One of many success stories from the program is student Ernest Cane. When he enrolled in Mt. SAC, he joined the program and put his trust in the director and his mentor. Cane followed the school’s criteria to graduate, transferred into UCLA and became a graduate. He is now working for Microsoft in Seattle, Washington.

“At first, this young man did not believe he could get into UCLA, whether out of his high school experience or family, he did not believe he could do it,” Banks said.

Many students who are connected with Aspire find sanctuary within the program.

“A lot of times, we’re getting students after they have been here for a year, they had some other type of experiences, whether that was with athletics or whether that was with some other club or what have you,” Banks said.

“So, by the time we get to them, they’re coming to us because they want to be around their people, they want to be around their culture,” Banks added. “Even for our students who are not black, they have gained an affinity for black people and black culture that is comfortable for them.”

In regards to future plans for Aspire, Banks said, “To further develop relationships with our students, the better we know our students the more that we can help them along their way, the more we can connect them, the more that we can guide them.”

According to the Aspire Program’s website, “Aspire is designed to attract and support African American students, but welcomes all students in hopes of building a stronger sense of community among students, staff and faculty.”

Aspire is located inside the Equity Center, building 16E, right next to the Reach Program. To contact them, their phone number is (909) 274-6396.