The summer before his first year at The Ohio State University, Donovan Hampton received an email from the Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male. The email contained information about the BNRC – which examines and addresses critical issues impacting the quality of life for African American males – and its Early Arrival Program.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet other Black men on campus and build community. Upon my arrival at the BNRC Early Arrival Program, I knew that I had made the right choice to be a part of that community.” Donovan immediately formed bonds and mentorship roles with several faculty and upperclassmen who are guiding him through his time at Ohio State. And the BNRC has also given Donovan the courage to find other opportunities at the university to get involved including Buckeye REACH: Circleville, a volunteer-mentorship program at Circleville Youth Correctional Facility, centering on development and kinship for incarcerated youth to improve their re-integration into society.
Since the Early Arrival Program, Donovan has gone on to attend other programs hosted by the BNRC.
“My most memorable event was the Black Male Retreat hosted Spring semester, which changed my life forever. I gained so much knowledge and strengthened bonds with several of my brothers here at OSU, as well as other schools that I would have never gotten into contact with had it not been for the retreat.”
Through connections made during the retreat, this past summer Donovan received an internship at the Urban Male Initiative at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, NYC, which was one of the schools present at the Black Male Retreat
The BNRC also might have influenced Donovan’s two current majors: Sociology and African and African American Studies. Originally, Donovan was a Zoology major on a Pre-Med track, but during his first semester, he became more connected with Black faculty and students on campus along with being a part of several organizations dealing with marginalized communities. “I then realized my calling. I knew that I needed to be doing the work of learning the history of my people and using it to apply to the contemporary plights of Black people. I am currently intending to be an educator and community involved agent of change through the fields of Sociology and Africana studies.”
Besides the BNRC, Donovan cites three other factors that have influenced him. The first is his experience as a young, queer, Black man growing up in America, which has, he says, shaped most of who he is today. “In assessing my access to certain privileges or lack thereof, my outlook on life is very different to a lot of people who move in the world oblivious to their privilege themselves.” Secondly, within his immediate family of working-class parents, Donovan is the first to attend college. “My parents sacrificed infinitely to provide opportunities for me to be the man I am today.” Finally, Donovan states, “College has definitely shifted my movement throughout the world in terms of recognizing my connection to and community with people from all different backgrounds. College has and is one of the best experiences that shapes who I am.”
Donovan plans to graduate May 2020, and he wants to go on to graduate school to get his doctorate in Education and Africana Studies. “I hope to pass down the information I learned and brighten the minds of the next generation to make this world better for the generations to come.”