Men of Distinction group increases retention within ranks

7/1/2010 - By: Noah McKay

A group of motivated men on campus is pursuing the extraordinary and noble by supporting each other, focusing on community service and promoting academic growth within their ranks. M.E.N. of Distinction began in fall 2009 with seven members and in the past year has expanded to 12 University students. The student organization is taking formal steps to become affiliated with a national fraternity.

“Our members want to go to graduate school and hope their service will help, but it is also good just to give back,” said Sean Tory, president of M.E.N. (Motivated, Extraordinary, Noble) of Distinction.

Tory and other founding members of M.E.N. were inspired by Reginald Stewart, director of the University of Nevada, Reno’s Center for Student Cultural Diversity, whom they first met at a University recruitment event in Las Vegas.

Tory recalls Stewart saying, “If you are not serious about your education don’t come up here; don’t get on the airplane. But if you are serious about graduating from University of Nevada, Reno, then we can’t wait for you to get here in the fall.”

The future members took what he said to heart and when they arrived in Reno, they formed their student organization. Stewart serves as their advisor. The group has participated and assisted with the Associated Students of the University of Nevada’s DreamGirls Multicultural Fashion Show during Unity Week, UMOJA Black History Month luncheon, Men Can Stop Rape training, Lambda Phi Xi Clothes Drive and numerous other campus and community events.

M.E.N. of Distinction is working towards becoming a part of Alpha Phi Alpha, a national African-American fraternity founded in 1906. “The fraternity is aware of the aspiration for membership and is working with the group to make it happen,” Stewart said.

The grade-point-average required of fraternities would further encourage members of M.E.N. to stay on top of their grades.

“This makes them academically eligible for finical aid and grants, gives them opportunities for scholarships, and makes them eligible to move grade level to grade level,” Stewart said.

While Greek letters are still some time off, M.E.N. members create their own fraternity experience. They work towards creating an environment that can best serve their community and maintain their cultural norms by organizing community service events, regular meetings and study sessions promoting camaraderie and accountability, to each other. While many college students come to appreciate that their grades are private, organizations like M.E.N. of Distinction make members take responsibility for their grades and communicate them to the group.

“I learned more about being a director of an organization as a student in student clubs than I ever did in any graduate class,” Stewart said. “You learn to deal with people, personalities, dynamics and conflict.”

M.E.N. of Distinction is made up of primarily African-American men, but the organization is open to all young men interested.

To learn more about M.E.N. of Distinction, contact Reginald Stewart at rstewart@unr.edu or call the Center at (775) 784-4936.


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