Center gives male students new life

Three years ago when 18-year-old McDonogh #35 senior Louis Blackmon considered his prospects after graduation, they were slim due to his ACT scores. His score fell just below Louisiana’s dictated minimum required scores for enrollment at a four-year state college.

The former football team co-captain said he always knew he wanted a four-year college degree and “always saw myself as a leader.”

When Blackmon learned about the Honoré Center at Southern University, “it changed my life,” he said.

Blackmon was one of the original students recruited from New Orleans high schools in 2012 for the Honoré Center for Undergraduate Student Achievement (CUSA), an initiative of the Southern University System. Today, the criminal justice major has completed his third year at Southern University New Orleans,  maintaining a 3.0 grade point average while working part time at the Louisiana Supreme Court.

“I am proud to be an Honoré Scholar and an Honoré Man!” said Blackmon.  

The Southern University and A & M College System established the Honoré Center for Undergraduate Student Achievement (CUSA) with funding from the State of Louisiana and other sources to undertake an important challenge to reverse the trend of fewer African-American males graduating from college, while also increasing the number of male classroom teachers in urban settings. A fourth cohort of male 2015 graduates from New Orleans area high schools will be recruited for the initiative that provides them added support and resources to complete their college education at SUNO campus.    

Named in 2012 for retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Russel L. Honoré, the program recruits male students into a highly structured campus living and learning environment designed to ensure their academic and personal success as college men and future leaders. All Honoré scholars must prose to serve at least two years after graduation as classroom teachers in the New Orleans area.Embedded on the SUNO campus, the Honoré Center is the centerpiece and pilot initiative of the Five-Fifths Agenda for America (FFAA), conceived by former SU System president Ronald Mason Jr., a national effort with the dual goals of increasing the number of college degrees among black men and increasing the ranks of black male classroom teachers.

“Not only are Honoré participants being retained at a higher rate then comparable Black male undergraduates at peer institutions, they are also making faster progress towards earning bachelors degrees. All of the current Honoré students are on pace to earn degrees in less than six years,” said CUSA director Warren Bell Jr.

By SU System Foundation


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