MALES Celebrates 20 Years

MALES WIDE SHOTOn any given afternoon, you’re likely to find a handful of students who stand out when walking across campus. Pressed shirts, shined shoes and ties, these young men lead by example, embodying student professionalism as members of a student organization called M.A.L.E.S. — Men Achieving Leadership, Excellence, and Success.

The club celebrated 20 years as a student organization at Eastern on Nov. 11 when more than 160 M.A.L.E.S. alumni, current members and club advisors came together in the Betty R. Tipton Room.  In addition to networking and reminiscing, the group raised more than $6,000 towards a scholarship established by M.A.L.E.S. in 2007.

Nearly 1,000 men have been active members of the organization since it was founded in 1997 by student Ed Joyner and advisors Tarome Alford, Lt. Derrick McBride, Michael Momparler, Will Hare and Pedro Santana.  Through their efforts and the work of those who have followed, M.A.L.E.S. is one of the most successful and active organizations in Eastern history.

Left to right: Cliff Marrett ’03, David E. Jones ’04, Joseph Hawley ’05, Milton Jackson ’05, Ashon “Chewy” Avent ’08, Derrick Curry ‘14

Left to right: Cliff Marrett ’03, David E. Jones ’04, Joseph Hawley ’05, Milton Jackson ’05, Ashon “Chewy” Avent ’08, Derrick Curry ‘14

Ed Joyner’s father, Dr. Edward Joyner Sr., was the keynote speaker. He spoke of the importance of brotherhood and community service within the college setting. He encouraged today’s M.A.L.E.S. members to stay motivated to succeed, despite any challenges they may come across, and reminded them to use their support system to help achieve success.

The organization maintains rigorous goals for community involvement and service while also holding signature events designed to establish a sense of brotherhood among members.

Current president Kendrick Constant and his fellow officers Tobi Graham, Corey Turner, Kalan Chapman, R.J. Dewar, Thomas Willingham, and Jaylin Warrens are ably supported by advisors Walter Diaz, Dennis Canterbury, Josh Sumrell, and Clifford Marrett.

“Leadership and community involvement and service is the cornerstone of M.A.L.E.S.,” said Marrett, a former M.A.L.E.S. member, president and current faculty advisor. “We strive to create a sense of brotherhood among the group through events such as our signature retreat at Camp Hazen, which is a team building trip where members engage in a ropes course, climbing and challenge each other as individuals and as a group.”

Current members reflect positively on the impact of these team-building experiences. “My favorite event has always been our Camp Hazen retreat because that is a time where we get close as brothers through different experiences and activities,” said student member Freddy Cruz. “Joining M.A.L.E.S. has allowed me to get to where I am today. Through joining, leading committees, being on the executive board and being an active member, I have gained many lifetime experiences to remember.”

M.A.L.E.S. has established and taken part in a number of community service projects, including several fundraisers for disaster relief and cancer. Besides attending regular meetings and events, prospective members must also participate in a community service event. Their commitment to serving the Willimantic area also solidifies a sense of teamwork among the men involved, a characteristic considered to be one of the reasons that M.A.L.E.S. has been so successful. “Teamwork is essential for an organizations’ success because it means having a network of individuals committed to a common mission,” said senior finance major and current M.A.L.E.S. President Kendrick Constant. “We establish teamwork by creating a sense of trust. A cohesive body of people working as a team is the key accomplishing any goal.”

MALES not only has had an impact on Eastern’s campus and on the thousand young men who have been MALES members. MALES has also served as a model for similar programs at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and Florida International University.  And MALES alumnus Ashon Avent recently started a MALES group for middle school students in Hartford.