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'Network' event promotes male-to-male mentorship in Central Texas

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
April 12, 2013

The Center for P-16 Initiatives at Texas State University will host "The Network" May 3, an inaugural forum designed to empower young males in Central Texas who are being raised in a single-parent home.

The event will run 9 a.m.-4 p.m. in the LBJ Student Center on campus. This year’s theme focuses on relationship building and making smart choices.

The forum is open to young men aged 11-18 years who are raised by a single-parent. The Center for P-16 Initiatives is looking for males who are college students and professional men in the community to serve as mentors for the day and to participate in a town hall dialogue. The aim for the forum is to establish a new tradition of male-to-male mentorship in Central Texas and to bring together successful men who overcame adversity and who can be examples for the young attendees.

"Approximately fifty-percent of kids in the U.S. today will spend some part of their childhood in a single-parent home," said Isaac Torres, grant specialist at the center and organizer of the event. "According to the U.S. Census Bureau, of the almost 14 million custodial single-parents, more than 80 percent are mothers, so we see a great need for positive and informed men to step up and provide grassroots mentorship in the community."

The Network will be a day of inspiring workshops that will provide examples from a variety of academic and career pathways for the young men to consider. Professor Tom Berno, from the School of Art & Design, will lead a workshop covering his pathway to a career in design, and his experience of being raised by a single mother.

“I’m fortunate in that my mother encouraged me to follow my own interests and to pursue an education in design, where other parents might have urged a more 'safe' pathway in business or a trade," said Berno. "In the process, I discovered a field that is a true community, and mentors that helped me achieve ever-greater successes. That mentorship is what I focus on giving to each new generation of students."

The workshop sessions will culminate with a multi-generational town hall dialogue in the afternoon which will allow the attendees to share their personal experiences, and their strategies for overcoming adversity. Israel Najera, professional development chair and supervisor for the counseling center at Texas State, will be the chief facilitator of the dialogue.

"Sharing one’s personal life with others is not just self-empowering but it also inspires others to develop the courage to create a community," Najera said. "When a community is established, everyone feels safe and secure, and leadership and creativity can thrive."

Male students aged 11-18 years have until April 26 to register for this free event. Lunch will be provided. To be a mentor for the day, or to support this event, contact Isaac Torres at (512) 245-8192 and it10@txstate.edu.