A MANdatory Culmination
Graduation marks new stage for men's leadership program
by Fabiola Cineas '12
November 18, 2011
Program graduates take seriously the MANdatory motto: “Men of MANdatory distinguish themselves by doing what others are unwilling to do to be successful.”
Caps and gowns weren’t necessary to indicate success at MANdatory’s fall 2011 graduation. On Saturday, Nov. 12, eight young men of color were recognized for their accomplishments as members of MANdatory’s second graduating class.
MANdatory was created last fall, when Norm Jones, dean of diversity/student development and assistant to the president, built a community in which male students of color at Dickinson could meet regularly, discuss their challenges and engage in deep and thoughtful reflections about their expectations and aspirations. The intensive program included a series of seminars with topics such as financial planning, speech writing, peer mentoring and study teams.
During the ceremony, Leonard Brown ’92, a MANdatory leader and dean of students/associate vice president, noted the students' unrelenting dedication to the program. “I don’t know too many students who are willing to forgo their Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings the way these men did,” he said.
The graduates—Angel Acosta ’15, Andrew Dietz ’15, Nasir Ellis ’15, Kyle Green ’12, Fabian Hernandez ’15, Lawrence Jolon ’15, Shan Lin ’15 and Frank Williams ’15—also described their individual transformations and established their solidarity through their joint presentation, Leadership Pathways. Dietz described how they all arrived at Dickinson via different paths but are now on similar missions to grow as leaders and are willing to break through societal norms and stereotypes.
Present and visible
In his keynote address, David Wall Rice, assistant professor of psychology at Morehouse College, urged the men to reject the concept of “minority.”
“Minority/minor means that you are not as significant as a larger group of people,” he said. “Being yourself and not attaching to the culture of ‘other’ is something you have to do. You are not the exception.” In order to lead, the men had to “be present and be visible in meaningful ways,” he continued. “MANdatory is an effective model for those who engage in it. Sometimes it only takes eight people to provide affirmation; validation is important if you’ve been invisible for a lifetime.”
Each graduate shared his vision for how he would move forward after MANdatory. Ellis emphasized his goal of learning how to be a follower while maintaining his edge as a leader. Dietz discussed how, as an Asian male, he overcame his initial skepticism about joining MANdatory, and Hernandez voiced his resolution to let his passions guide him throughout the rest of his time at Dickinson.
Mauricio Torres ’12, speaking on behalf of MANdatory’s inaugural class, used the metaphor of wrestling in his address. “Be aggressive in the neutral position, commit to your shots, be productive from all angles and control the uncontrollable,” he said. “Everyone wants to win, but only the champions have the will to prepare. Invest in yourself now.” In a symbolic gesture, Torres then gave his wrestling shoes to the graduating class.
“MANdatory has allowed these men a space where they can come together and examine what brought them here and ask important questions,” said Joyce Bylander, special assistant to the president for institutional and diversity initiatives. “Dickinson becomes more when Dickinsonians become more.”
Read more about MANdatory in the fall 2011 issue of Dickinson Magazine.