There is an organization on campus available, to which I have recently had the pleasure of being introduced to. It is mostly unknown on Sinclair’s campus. This group is called SAAB or Brother to Brother.
An organization started by Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe in 1990, SAAB stands for Student African American Brotherhood. Its goal is to increase the number of young minority males graduating from college by creating a positive peer community based on a spirit of caring.
The Sinclair chapter of this organization goes by the name AAMI, African American Male Initiative. It is overseen by Director of Student Enrichment, Christopher Welch. Under his charge are two coordinators, De’Shawna Yamini and Marc DeWitt. AAMI has become a huge part of their lives and means very much to them.
De’shawna Yamini has an associates degree from Sinclair in computer information systems, a bachelor’s from Wilberforce University in global management and communications, and a MBA from Franklin University. She has been with AAMI for one year but has worked at Sinclair for five.
“[AAMI] is more than just young minority men getting acclimated to college and just getting by,” Yamini said.
“It’s about them having better life outcomes. I don’t want them to just do well in college, but in life outside the walls of Sinclair by this program instituting a personal and professional development atmosphere. To succeed in this program, participation is key, as we serve about 70 students and we see half of them on a regular basis. I can proudly say I have seen these young men become more than just friends and classmates but brothers in the truest sense of the word. They have relied on one another, supported each other and have looked out for each other no matter the cost and that makes me truly happy.”
Marc DeWitt is another coordinator for AAMI. He started his education at Sinclair from 1994-97 before taking some time off. He then enrolled at Central State University in 2003 and received a bachelor’s degree in history and economics.
He worked for the Monday correctional institute program for seven years before coming back to Sinclair in 2015 as a violations officer.
He then became part of AAMI part time in Feb. 2016 and became full time in July 2016.
“The textbook answer [to what AAMI is and what its goal is] is closing the achievement gap for minorities, but in reality it’s a better outcome for minorities, because unfortunately not all members are going to graduate,” DeWitt said.
“I myself attended Sinclar but didn’t graduate,” DeWitt said. “But we can try to help prepare them for what may come, while also closing the achievement gap. The narrative for many young minorities is survival instead of education and growth. Opening these young men’s eyes to opportunities that they never thought possible fosters and feeds a vision or concept that can put them on a path not once thought available. To make this possible we have to be a strong community and collective.”
Martez Warren is the current student-President of the AAMI. He is graduating this spring 2018 and plans to continue at Morehouse College, pursuing a degree in creative writing.
He’s also a student ambassador helping students in need with enrollment and class scheduling.
“[AAMI] has provided me with resources throughout the campus such as study tools and possible career connections that will come in handy later for advancement in my chosen field,” Warren said.
“[AAMI] has helped me foster powerful relationships with staff members and students that I know will endure the test of time. To any potential new members I encourage them to come to meetings every Friday at 2:00 p.m. in building 8 room 027 because we share the secrets to great study skills as well as professional skills while developing a work ethic that will serve you for the rest of your life!”
The student Vice President of AAMI, Rodney Mack Jr. is also apart of Phi Beta Kappa. He will be graduating Fall 2017 and intends to transfer to Wright State University to study Psychology and obtain a PsyD with a minor in Sociology.
Mack Jr.’s ultimate goal is to be the future director of AAMI at Sinclair or any other respectable college.
“AAMI has been very influential in my life especially during periods of change that I have experienced,” Mack Jr. said. “Some for the better, some for the worst.”
“Thanks to this program I have discovered so much about myself that I didn’t know. This has helped propel me into the field of psychology. Marc and De’Shawna have become my surrogate parents, and this group of young men have become my brothers in all ways but blood. We have a true diverse group of minorities from all over the globe. The friends and brothers I have made from being apart of this group I will treasure until my last days.”
AAMI is always looking for new members who are committed and dedicated to becoming who they want to become.
Their motto is “I am my brother’s keepers and together we will rise!” A powerful motto that will help them achieve their dreams.
AAMI is located in building 8 room 027. To learn more their website is Sinclair.edu\services\support\AAMI or SAAB National.org
Justin A. Baker