Groom Dinkneh (A '13) discusses Tufts Black Alumni Association's new mentorship program to recently inducted members on Saturday, Oct. 10. Evan Sayles / The Tufts Daily

Tufts Black Alumni Association launches second year of mentorship program

Tufts Black Alumni Association (TBAA) held a launch event on the evening of Oct. 10 to mark the second year of the group’s mentorship program, which aims to prepare students for the professional world through connections with alumni.

The event took place in the Sophia Gordon Multipurpose Room and featured several speakers, including TBAA President Biodun “BK” Kajopaiye (A ’07) and alumnus Groom Dinkneh (A ’13), the director of the TBAA mentorship program and Young Alumni Affairs, according to TBAA alumni ambassador Jared Smith, a senior.

Dinkneh explained that the mentor program creates connections by matching up students with alumni.

“The program is an opportunity for alumni to connect with undergraduates who are interested or share some interests in academic or professional affairs,” he said.

According to Dinkneh, the program has connected seven junior and senior student mentees this year with seven alumni mentors who work nationwide, in places such as California, Washington, D.C. and Boston.

Dinkneh explained that the inaugural year of the mentorship program had been focused on addressing students’ needs by teaching networking and communication skills and establishing connections and relationships for the future.

“Students [were] citing a sense of separation from the university as they entered the graduate world and a lack of dialogue between them and alumni connections,” he said.

Dinkneh and other members of the programming staff, including Smith, are working on expanding the program’s breadth for its second year and hope to recruit several more potential alumni for the program. Dinkneh said that he also wants to bring in more speakers this year, so that mentees are not only connecting with their alumni mentor, but also connecting with people outside the TBAA.

“The program is based on retention and expansion,” he said. “We are creating events [that] cater toward the community and excite them, making people want to attend.”

Smith, who serves as a bridge among the cohort of mentees, the program’s director and alumni, said that the mentees in the program were also given their first monthly challenge during the event. These challenges, Smith explained, can include activities such as conducting information interviews with five new people.

“The monthly challenges are areas [that] the alumni felt they should have had more access to when they were students,” Smith said.

He added that, at the end of the event, the alumni in the program chatted with the mentees and addressed their remaining questions. They plan to keep in touch after the event through monthly phone calls.

Smith said the launch event was an opportunity for this year’s mentees to become more familiar with the program.

“[The event] was an introduction for the mentees to the program,” he said. “Some of the alumni made it to the event, and the mentees were told what the goals of the program are and what is expected of them.”

Both Dinkneh and Smith said that TBAA is a fairly new group, since it was only recognized as an alumni association approximately a year and a half ago.

“Word of mouth is primarily how we are expanding right now,” said Smith. “We could also try to use the Africana Center, and we will be working on broadening our scope in different ways throughout the year.”

Smith, who was a mentee in the TBAA program last year, said he had a positive experience with his mentor.

“I am still in touch with my mentor to this day, and I definitely would never have met someone from the Class of ’07 without the program,” he said. “It could be extremely influential and beneficial, but it is very self-driven. You get out what you put into it.”

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