For a long time, I’ve been a champion of black male success. I graduated from High School in New York City, and as the oldest of four boys, I am the first in my family to attend and graduate from college. Growing up in Queens, New York, I wasn’t surrounded by the best of role models to help fuel my desires for academic achievement and professional success. What I saw on TV didn’t help either. As a result, I became determined to achieve what hadn’t been done before by those around me, and make possible what didn’t seem possible for other young black men as well. This included my young brothers and other peers around me. I wanted to be a role model.

Now as a senior at Babson, as I prepare to leave, one of things I’m working on is a social media campaign on Babson’s campus, and other college campuses as well. Many are familiar with the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter #BlackExcellence or #BlackGirlMagic, which I fully support and use myself. However, I haven’t found many hashtags that elevate or highlight the success of young collegiate black men or men or color, especially in light of of mass-incarceration rates and police brutality of black men. I don’t want to take away from existing hashtags, but instead add to them in order to curate and highlight the ongoing success of collegiate men of color all across the country. This social media campaign is both personal and academic, and comes together as a part of my independent research paper.

As a part of my independent research/capstone paper, I’m documenting my experiences at Babson College, a small private, predominantly white institution, and putting that in both a historical and contemporary context considering the state of race relations in America. Not only am I looking at it from a race relations perspective, but I am also considering the historical timeline of black male collegians.  This independent research was birthed out of both academic and personal curiosity. My hope is to get all or a portion of my research published and that it is used as a platform to open the dialogue about black male college success, especially using a personal narrative as a launching pad.

Aside from this project, I’m excited to be graduating in just about two weeks. Post graduation, I will be starting a two-year four-city rotation with The Nielsen Company, rotating between the different functions in their Finance Division.

– Shatiek Gatlin, SVMP Class of 2015