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AAMP Student Reflections

How AAMP Aamplified my life!

 

 Jessica Dishmon, School Psychologist San Jose, AAMP Alumni

Through the AAMP program, I received extensive mentorship, a family unit, and international exposure/expansion. The AAMP program has a host of mentors who assisted in shaping and guiding my life professionally and personally. The program mentors challenged me throughout my academic studies by encouraging me to set daily goals and to create checklists when I accomplished them. They modeled and explicitly trained how I could assert myself in difficult and or ‘trying’ situations. As students in the SDSU school psychology graduate program, it is a common goal of all scholars to become a school psychologist intern. During the process of being considered for internship, a few of my professors questioned my ‘readiness’. I was disappointed, confused and I felt victimized, however in my favor stood Dr. Green and Dr. Booker. As mentors, they presented as advocates. They asked me questions such as “What are your strengths?”, “What are your weaknesses?”, “Why is your performance being questioned?” and “What evidence do you have to support your readiness for internship?” This level of preparation, self reflection and collaboration instilled in me the importance of academic preparedness, self advocacy and resiliency. 

The aforementioned experience also strengthened my perception of the dire necessity of support systems. My biological family lives in Chicago. Further, they were not aware, nor did I feel they attained the wherewithal to assist me in this collegiate specific process. Without my additional AAMP support system of Dr. Green and Dr. Booker, the process of defending ‘internship readiness’, may have seemed insurmountable. The process took several weeks, but I was empowered knowing, I could trust and have faith in my professors. They stood by me professionally and personally. Dr. Green encouraged and affirmed who I was as a graduate student based on observations, work samples and my overall presentation. She walked me through the process and the challenges by consistently declaring I would “thrive” and not “survive.” In the end, I did both! I survived the challenge and I thrived in the process. I became an intern. Moreover, I received high accolades from the director of psychological services from the district in which I worked.  In my circumstance, professional support was needed, however personal support served a greater purpose.  

In supporting me personally, the AAMP community fostered my dream of traveling internationally. In collaboration with the Africana studies department of SDSU and AAMP, I was introduced to the opportunity of traveling to South Africa. The purpose of the trip included servicing less fortunate communities and collaborating with African educators as to learn of and possibly adopt various educational practices. My trip to South Africa lifted my personal mental limitations of abroad travel as strict budgeting was a part of the graduate student life. In determining in my mind I was going to be a part of a life changing experience, I divorced my doubtful thinking and embraced the possibility of fulfilling a dream. 

My travel to the amazing countries of South Cape Town and Johannesburg has forever impacted my life. From the experience, my life vision and purpose of working with underprivileged youth within and around the USA became clearer; my passion for life more live; and my thirst for international camaraderie more refreshing. Because of AAMP, its participants, and founders, I am well rounded and I further understand the importance of graduate mentorship programs. They foster the academic, professional, and personal development of other upcoming scholars, professors, and working professionals.

 

Personal Story: A Dream Fulfilled

 

Niecy Watkins, M.A., Ph.D. Special Education and Educational Leadership
Special Education Administrator San Diego Unified School District, AAMP Alumni

For many students attending a large university, you will often times, feel lonely or overwhelmed with all the requirements and academic expectations. Many students do not know where or who on campus they can turn too when questions or concerns arise.  This fact is especially true for students of color given that they are usually the minority on campus and are less likely to seek assistance when they find themselves in need of support.

At San Diego State University, we are fortunate to have the African American Mentor Program (AAMP).  My academic and social experiences at SDSU have been very positive experiences impart because of the AAMP program.  The program was started by a group of professors who saw the need for helping African American students navigate through their academic careers. The Professors have focused on becoming mentors, a support system and an avenue for networking for each student in the program.  The AAMP program is an inspiration to young African American students because each of the mentors are African Americans who are willing to share their experiences in achieving a higher level of education.  Each mentor meets with students on a regular basis to give advice and encouragement.   For me the leaders of the AAMP program help bring to life the words of Muhammad Ali when he said, “If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it.” 

I was an undergraduate student finishing my BA requirements when I meet one of the professors of the AAMP program. I was in need of assistance with regards to my future academic plans after graduation, when the professor invited me to an AAMP meeting.  As I sat in the meeting, I was encouraged and inspired to continue my studies at the next level.  Listening to each of the professors share their experiences, gave me a sense of hope and direction.  For the first time I was able to really see professors who look like me and who could relate and understand the specific concerns that students of color often face at large universities. 

I started college late in life; I was already married, with three young sons, and my dream then was to one day get a BA degree.  I met Dr. Brandon, one of the mentors of the AAMP program, at the beginning of my level 1 credential program, and we began getting to know each other and she immediately began to encourage me to enroll in the Master’s program.  My dream was to simply get the BA and finish the credential program, yet it was through her inspiration and belief in me that gave me the desire to want to continue to better myself.  While I was still in the level one program Dr. Brandon invited me to join the AAMP program.  What I did not know until later was this program was for students who were being encouraged to dream higher than just the BA or the Master’s, but to further their education and knowledge to the highest level of a Doctorates degree.  For a person outside of my family, someone who I have only known for a short while, to see that type of potential in me was and is extremely powerful.  It is this type of empowerment that all students in the AAMP program receive which allows us to not only move forward in our careers, but to understand that we must continue to empower and encourage others, as we become leaders in our own roles and responsibilities. 

Lastly, the AAMP program has been very instrumental in helping me to bring focus and direction to my academic career and plans. The valuable experiences shared by the different presenters, has given me both determination and self-awareness.  The personal success of each presenter has engrained in me a sense of value and cultural responsibility, knowing that it is not enough to sit at their table of knowledge and simply receive, but receive with the understanding that I too, must in turn give back to those with whom I come into contact.

 

Personal Story: Believed It and Achieved It! 

Ava Gill, M.A., CBB Graduate, SDSU Lecturer, AAMP Alumni 

Being the first member of my family to graduate from college was a major accomplishment; but to continue on and earn a Master’s degree was colossal! Unbeknownst to me, chasing this dream would mean lots of sleepless nights; ‘APA” papers, counseling “real” clients with “real problems; attending field work twice a week; attending class twice a week, ten hour days…How was I going to survive? I knew that earning a degree of this magnitude would take a lot of dedication, hard work , and above all, a mental mind set of success, achievement and relentless self discovery. Although I felt I was mentally preparing for my success of my Master’s degree, I knew deep inside that I needed the help of a village in order to overcome any adversity that may arise in my quest to graduate from the Counseling program at San Diego State University. That’s where AAMP (African American Mentor Program) comes in to play. Being apart of this organization was a blessing in my educational growth. Because of the various belief systems that AAMP advocates, these are the four belief systems that allowed me to succeed: 1) The belief in the success of their students, 2) Open door policy, 3) Mentorship and leadership opportunities, 4) Opportunities for financial scholarships, one of which I was awarded; The $500.00, African American Mentor Program Scholarship. Because of these AAMP belief systems, I was able to mentally exceed my educational expectations as a graduate student in the CBB (Community Based Blocked) program that was emotionally, personally, and physically challenging. To succeed in this unique program, I was challenged to look into the core of my existence as a woman of color and beyond. With the additional assistance of the AAMP program, along with the support of my CBB cohorts and faculty , I was able to achieve my desired goal of earning an advanced degree. Participating in the AAMP program has also helped amplify my ability to touch the lives of others while giving back to those in need. Being exposed to African and African –American scholars and leaders at SDSU and the larger community through AAMP, has afforded me the privilege and honor of working and learning from those who have gone before me in their field of study and whom are dedicated to their fight, cause and movement. I feel that I am mentally and well versed to go out into the community and be a voice of social justice and change. In addition, the AAMP program has provided me with a vast amount of skills, such as leadership , collegiate writing skills and formatting techniques , all of which allowed me to move forward and be recognized. 

 

Poem: An Ode to AAMP

Ojore Bushfan, M.A., MFT Graduate Student, and Graduate Instructor, AAMP Alumni and Faculty 

Asante sana.

Asante sana for time given freely 

in an era of calculating extra time for currency. 

Moments together be sacred 

like when elders speak.

Moving, 

like a Malcolm X speech blaring through beats, 

into the ears of inspired revolutionaries and change agents.

Revitalizing, 

like standing in the midst of a mindful hug.


Asante sana for space carved out inside the institution

creating an environment for your fruition;

empowered by academic and scholarly restitution,

because 

you know how they do US in the institution.

Creating obstacles and traps since we don’t know the happs;

clueless of the rules,

yet, you taught us the tools.

Grounding US in collective purpose, 

digging in unseen possibilities 

like roots from the base of the Acacia tree 

burrowing into earth.


Asante sana for making us visible

when others closed their eyes and ears;

turned their heads and projected their fears; 

making the message more than clear:

WE 

are to be unheard and unseen.

WE bring too much controversy to the scene

to the discussion…

But you all,

allowed our vocals to ring loud 

like an auditorium-filled singing, of we shall over come

and remained wide-eyed;

taking US in,

each of US in.

Moving beyond our exteriors and gently pulling at our interiors;

like a one sided game of tug of war,

you gently brought out the best in us…

As if you've noticed your reflection in us.  

Asante sana for amplifying us!

For channeling your essence, passions, and love to our receivers,

for bridging your ancestors with ours.

Our gatherings summoned ancestral energy:

beating of drums, 

voicing of songs,

ancestors fully united;

moving rhythmically,

revealing prophecy,

and shouting ashe! ashe! ashe! 

in tones only the Creator can hear.

What’s supposed to happen has taken place!

Whose supposed to be involved is present in the this space!


Asante sana for payin’ it forward

and modeling ways to sustain the momentum. 

For givin’ us the courage to thrive,

freedom to be alive,

to be human,

to be African with no explination

and with no apology,

to be more than just students,

to give back, 

to left as we climb

and to be amplified!

Asante sana Dr. Green.

Asante sana Dr. Butler-Byrd.

Asante sana Dr. Brandon.

Asante sana Dr. Booker.

Asante sana Dr. Branch.

 

Poem: COMMENCE

Sayoko D. Watson, M.A., CBB Graduate, AAMP Alumni, Researcher: Institute for the Advanced Study of Black Family Life and Culture 

I am from the streets of Oakland 

Where Cops’ guns stay smokin’

The block is hot from Persistent Traumatic Stress Disorders


And some don’t have a clue, got lost

Or are struggling to Breathe

And Inhale 

The Divine Breath of Afrika’s Legacy


TO BE

Afrikan or Not

Remains the question posed

And to know thy self in the Wake 

And Face 

Of no one caring or daring to even know 


A call is proclaimed up our head

To manifest our destiny because THEY bled


Who would have thought that a Mother of three

Could go back to school and earn a Master’s Degree?

Exactly!

My ABPsi and AAMP family

Even my brother doubted me

Then he remembered how his Sis moves in Ancestors Dreams

Because GrandMama never made it past grade 3


In the Oh so Holy Spirit of Sankofa!

I turn my head back while my feet move forward 

And hold on to mustard seeds

So I remember whose I am

Who I am

And where I strive to be


I do it for my block

I do it for Maat

I do it because Jegna’s say, “Don’t Stop”

Master Teachers, Womyn/tors

Amplifying our potential to another level

We are all the way turned up and Perfectable


By your time

Words

And generous hand 

The African American Mentoring Program

Truly provides a soft place to land (Duhe Watson, 2013)

 

Prayer: DAUNTE’S PRAYER 

Daunte Haynes, Ed.S. in School Psychology, AAMP Alumni 

Dear God,

I know it seems like we only talk when I need something and that’s true I am guilty of that 80 percent of the time. But today I want to thank you for allowing AAMP (mentoring program) to be present in my life. Growing up in my community where the only success stories were from athletes it was definitely hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Now with AAMP I have been rewarded the opportunity to meet individuals who have earned their Ph. D’s, Ed. Specialist degrees, and multiple Masters Degrees to show me my race is not over yet and I should strive for more. During this process AAMP has provided me a soft spot to land and demonstrates their love, commitment, and desire to give back to students. Having the privilege to know these people and to see how much they have invested their hearts in the AAMP program has installed a drive in me that makes me want to in their shoes someday to offer the same support for future African American students. Thank you lord once again for AAMP to be present in my life. 

Amen 

 

Poem: African American Mentoring Program 

Michelle Rowe-Odem, M.A., CBB Graduate, SDSU Lecturer, AAMP Alumni 

African American Mentoring Program

African Anyone's Mentoring Program

Ample Access to Motivated Professionals

Astute Ability Meets Passion

Actively Acting as Mental Protection from

Abysmal Abhorrent Made-up Pathologies

Absolute Acceptance Macerates Pain

Absolute Acceptance Macerates Pain

Absolute Acceptance Makes Peace

About Absorbing and Maintaining Pacts

African American Mentoring Program

About Africans Making Patterns for

All Afloat this Misled Paddle

Azania, Alkebulan, Motherland, Promise

Abroad, Away, are Many People

Abandon Antagonisms and Magnify our Purpose

African American Mentoring Program

African Anyone's Mentoring Program