About Us

SLCC’s Center for Minority Excellence Empowers African American Students

South Louisiana Community College Center for Minority Excellence

The Center for Minority Excellence (CME) at South Louisiana Community College plays a critical role in supporting and empowering African American students to achieve their academic and career goals.

Funded by a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the program was designed to provide students with a range of support services aimed at increasing enrollment, retention, transfer, and college completion rates. However, program director, Matthew Miles, has noticed that it’s the sense of belonging and community that students connect to most.

“I’ve expanded the focus to include the nine dimensions of wellness which covers emotional, physical, financial, spiritual, intellectual, career, social, creative, and environmental wellness. What the research tells us about the nine dimensions of wellness, is that if any of those dimensions are off it can impact the whole individual,” Miles explains. “If a person is worried about how they are going to eat that day, it can impact how they will study. If they are worried about paying bills, it impacts their performance in the classroom.”

The CME program has helped 5,528 students since the program started in 2016, and is available on all nine campuses of South Louisiana Community College. It’s open to all African American students who are eligible and interested in participating. The staff offers a range of services, including academic advising and tutoring, career exploration and planning, mentoring support, financial literacy, college tours, and social programming.

“We host a monthly series called Courageous Conversations. We talk about relevant topics like criminal justice, the challenges and wins of being a first-generation college student, and we also try to team up with college majors as well, like the Black Nurses Association,” says Miles.

Miles and his team take a holistic approach to student support, engaging students intellectually and culturally and connecting them to the college’s resources. This approach helps students develop a sense of belonging and encourages them to stay successful and it’s working.

According to the numbers, they’ve helped nearly 4,000 students increase their exposure to academic and career initiatives and have provided more than 600 students with professional development opportunities.

One of the key features of the CME program is its tutoring services. Miles explains that African American students often face invisible barriers that can make tutoring challenging, and the CME program staff works to create a comfortable and supportive environment for students. By having courageous conversations and breaking down barriers, the program staff can help students feel more confident and secure, which contributes to their academic success.

“The tutoring services offered by the Center for Minority Excellence really got me through my classes,” explains Letessie Pierre.

Pierre enrolled in South Louisiana Community College from her hospital bed in New Orleans while recovering from a kidney transplant. Just over a month later she was in class. The road was not easy, but she took full advantage of everything the Center for Minority Excellence was able to provide. Now she’s continuing her education as a transfer student, while working at the CME on the Lafayette campus.

“Now being here as a worker, I have that insight of being a student here and being in this program. I let these students know if it had not been for these people at the CME, my education journey may have stalled. Now I’m continuing with classes at LSU-A.”

The program has had a profound impact on many students by offering them experiences that contribute to their overall success at school and in life.

“We hear their motivation, when they come back from graduation and tell us that we exposed them to things they’ve never experienced before. When we took a trip to Washington D.C., some students had never been on a bus before, or a plane, some of them had never left Lafayette. A lot of times those outside-of-the-classroom experiences help them matriculate faster, it’s very rewarding,” says Miles.

The Center for Minority Excellence’s comprehensive approach and its range of support services empower young men and women to thrive and engage at SLCC. Click to learn more about the mission and impact of the Center for Minority Excellence.

This site provides information using PDF, visit this link to download the Adobe Acrobat Reader DC software.