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New group focuses on positive role modeling

By Ashley Cole
News Editor

September 13, 2012

Photo by Ashley Cole
Members of M.A.D.E. Men meet on Sept. 6 to discuss plans for the semester.

While most students were vacationing over the summer, UNCP senior Antonio Woodard was busy building a new organization called Minorities Advancing for Distinction and Empowerment.

"For minorities, and specifically African-American males, [oftentimes] we don't have mentors or persons of influence to personally encourage our growth and development as men, so I wanted to change that unfortunate epidemic and start a movement," Woodard said.

Woodard wants this organization to be a brotherhood and a network for its members.

"We're kind of like a fraternity, but without all the hoopla," Woodard said.

Woodard said the organization will "provide members with the resources and networking of other professional individuals, community outreach, leadership development and other diverse opportunities."

Vice president of M.A.D.E. Men Anthoni Clegg said members will conduct themselves professionally on campus.
Photo by Ashley Cole
President of M.A.D.E. Men Antonio Woodard talks to members at their meeting.
"We're going to dress a certain way, talk a certain way, act a certain way and conduct ourselves differently on campus than other organizations do," Clegg said. "We will conduct ourselves professionally as if we were in a business setting."

Woodard had been brainstorming for the past year about starting an organization, but didn't want to begin until he had the time, which he found over summer break.

"I put together a strong group of ambitious and intelligent individuals whom I strongly felt embodied leadership qualities and aspired to be as successful as I want to be in the near future," Woodard said.

M.A.D.E. Men has been an official organization for less than a week and has already seen great interest, using word of mouth as its biggest promotional tool.

"I believe we already have more than 50 members and will easily reach over 100 by the end of this year," Woodard said.

During the summer when M.A.D.E. Men was getting started, members began doing community outreach.

According to Woodard, the first thing they did was proctor exams for Pembroke Middle School. He wanted to expose the students to a positive image of minority men in the classroom.

"You hardly ever see male teachers, and on top of that, you really don't see minority male teachers," Woodard said.

He also wanted to show the students that school is fun. He wanted them to see that going to school, dressing well and talking well is the cool thing to do.

Faculty adviser Robert Canida said he would like to see the members "reach out to places like Purnell Swett and other schools in the county that are primarily [made of] young men of color that need to see positive college role models."

M.A.D.E. Men also mentored boys twice a week at the Odom Baptist Home for Children in Pembroke.

"Those are the kind of guys who I find great fulfillment in working with," Woodard said. "The ones who have been left in the dark and who a lot of people have already given up on."
Photo by Ashley Cole
Members of M.A.D.E. Men talk with District Judge Judith Daniels, the only African-American female judge in the county.
"Tuesdays we would go over there and have some structured recreation time with them," Clegg said. "Thursdays we would bring them to a campus classroom, and we'd teach them about success, life skills, leadership traits, how to be a man and how to overcome adversity."

"That was great," Canida said. "I encouraged the leadership of M.A.D.E. Men to continue that because it's important for those young men at the Odom home to see positive role models here on campus."

Woodard, having grown up without a mentor, put emphasis on his members being positive role models for the young boys and instilling "confidence and belief in them."

"They are us, and we are them," Woodard said. "They can see what they could be in a few years if they just put in the work, so we want to take a good group of guys over there and show them what they can be."

M.A.D.E. Men has more community outreach planned for the future. Woodard said that one of their biggest events will be going to the Duke Cancer Treatment Center to spend time with patients.

"I'm most intrigued by cancer patients because it seems like every patient I've come across has an extremely unique outlook on life that I believe will be very contagious when putting our men in that kind of environment," Woodard said.

Canida, who is also the director of the Office of Multicultural and Minority Affairs (OMMA), wants to see the organization be more involved with educational and academic programs on campus.

He would also like to see them collaborate with OMMA and groups like the NAACP and campus sororities and fraternities.

Woodard is optimistic about the future of M.A.D.E. Men and hopes that it will spread to other universities across North Carolina and other states.

M.A.D.E. Men meets every Monday and Thursday from 6-8 p.m. in OMMA, located in Old Main 128.

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Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
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