Number Of Peer Mentors at the Queensborough Male Resource Center (QMRC) Has Nearly Doubled Since its Official Opening Last Summer
The Queensborough Male Resource Center (QMRC) which officially opened in August continues to expand its resources and student services which are geared toward creating positive, lifechanging differences for male students, with a particular focus on self-identified Black and Latino males who experience lower retention and graduation rates at colleges and universities across the country. Among those resources are peer mentors who help students further develop self-confidence and motivation while setting their goals towards achieving academic success.
Jamal Biggs is the Director of the Queensborough Male Resource Center. “Currently I have thirteen peer mentors,” said Jamal. “Two of the peer mentors are work study students and two of the peer mentors are social work interns here from Hunter College. The number has grown since the center officially opened with students coming in almost daily inquiring about the position. Prior to the center opening, we had seven peer mentors on staff.”
“Students rely on the Queensborough Male Resource Center as a safe space where they do not have to be anything, they can just be,” said current peer mentor Donyea Burton, who will graduate in December 2023 with a degree in Business Administration, a 3.5 G.P.A. and a place on the Dean’s list for the past three semesters.
Donyea’s story began in the country of Jamaica where he was born and raised. At twenty years-old, after he graduated from Denbigh High School in Clarendon in 2019, he set his sights on a life in the United States and arrived in December 2020 to join his family in Jamaica, Queens. He was determined to attend college and applied to CUNY because of its affordable tuition. He was accepted to Queens College, College of Staten Island and Queensborough Community College. It did not take long for him to choose Queensborough once he learned that Queensborough is the highest-ranked community college in New York State and is among the best community colleges in the country. *
He enrolled full-time in the fall of 2021, attending classes on-line as he worked full-time at Sutherland Global, a digital transformation company. He began in person classes starting in January 2023.
“I heard of MALES as a work study opportunity,” he said. Donyea was already a CUNY peer advisor in Academic advisement, helping students build schedules, register for classes, and use the QCC connect app. “Being a first-year student is intimidating. I remember what it was like to come from another country trying to navigate a different culture and learn the nuances of a language different from my Jamaican patois, creole language. I want to help Black and Latino males who have become discouraged and need someone like me to believe in them. I want to offer them a friendly hand.”
“The most important quality a peer mentor must have is consistency,” said Jamal. “For the mentee to trust and believe what the mentor is saying they must be consistent in their messaging, consistent in their communication, and consistent with their approach to them and their own schoolwork.”
“Jamal is great, very chill. He creates a welcoming and warm atmosphere for everyone, students, and peer mentors alike,” said Donyea.
Soon, Donyea will transition from peer mentor to first-year student at a senior college. He has been accepted to Binghamton University, Baruch College, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and University at Albany. His plans are to continue his studies in business administration, data analytics and information systems.
Donyea’s advice to students:
“Go out and explore the college, get involved in clubs and organizations that will help you meet new people like the Male Resource Center. Volunteer for activities. And don’t forget to check your emails!
*According to a 2023 report released by WalletHub.com
Contact: Alice Doyle