Kennedy King Grad Credits Support Group with College Success

citizen | 5/17/2013, 12:11 p.m.
Kenneth Hamilton, 23, walked across UIC Pavilion's (525 S. Racine Ave.) stage May 3, graduating...
Kenneth Hamilton, 23, takes part in Kennedy King College's commencement ceremony held May 3 at UIC Pavillion. Photo/City Colleges Chicago.

Kenneth Hamilton, 23, walked across UIC Pavilion's (525 S. Racine Ave.) stage May 3, graduating from Kennedy King College (KKC) and fulfilling the first "leg" of his journey to become a lawyer. He credits a black male support group implemented at KKC, with helping him accomplish this part of his goal.

To help bridge, social, family and other gaps, black males who attend KKC at 6301 S Halsted St., can take part in the school's King's Men Initiative, a support group implemented last October after a study conducted by the school showed disparities between black male and female enrollment and success rates.

"I graduated from Hyde Park High School on Stony Island and grew up in the Woodlawn community in a single-parent household," Hamilton told the Chicago Citizen Newspaper. "My mother raised all six of her kids. My father was in my life but he wasn't in our household."

Hamilton then discussed the mentors he worked with while in the program and how they positively influenced his success.

"As part of the King's Men, I had two mentors James Floyd, vice president, (general manager) for McDonalds Corporation's (Central Division) and Don Thompson, president and CEO of McDonalds Corporation and other men in my life who supported and encouraged me to do better and stay focused on what I'm trying to accomplish in life."

Hamilton admitted that it's sometimes difficult to focus with all the violence in Chicago.

"As an African American male you think about your life and we are stereotyped with different things going on in the community but I think I'm blessed to be who I am."

Hamilton also said he's not shy about sharing what's troubling him.

"I talk about my issues or any issues going on in the community because, I'm a community activist and I plan to one day become a politician," he said.

With focuses primarily on Black males of any age, King's Men aim is to bring black male students together for mentorship, fellowship, scholarship, and career focus.

Students who take part in the group are also given instruction on how to express themselves, effectively communicate and address whatever issues they're facing.

"We have a "diversity circle" where we address the various subcultures within the African American community," said Brandon Nichols, director of Academic Support Services, Kennedy King College. "We may have someone in the group who had an alcoholic parent, who may have witnessed murder or sold drugs. Addressing all those things play a role in how successful we will be when we see all this negativity in our life."

"As part of the workshop, we visited McDonald's Corporation and learned about basic business strategies and we also had an Ivy League college tour," Nichols continued. "This is the first time we've facilitated something like this for the City Colleges which was primarily focused towards our black male students who were looking to transfer to a four-year institution. It was meant for exposure to show them opportunities outside of Chicago."

As for the business and career components, among other things, workshops focus on entrepreneurship and networking.