Welcome to the Appalachian State University Black Male Excellence Initiative (BMEI)! Are you ready to make history? The 2021-2022 academic year will be the inaugural year for the Black Male Excellence Initiative RLC. This community has been created to assist with the recruitment, retention, and graduation of Black Males who attend Appalachian State University. While creating a sense of belonging in a residence hall setting, members of the community will focus on life-skills in a holistic manner. The Black Male Excellence Initiative RLC will provide members with a framework that will prepare Black Males for life during and after college.
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Dr. Will Sheppard
Dr. Will Sheppard is an Assistant Director in University Housing for West Campus and Adjunct Faculty. Will is from Tyler, Texas and a first generation college student. He attended University of Central Missouri and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education K-12, University of South Dakota, M.A. in Exercise Science, and the University of Nebraska Lincoln, doctorate in Education Administration. His passion areas are academic success for 1st generation students and students of color. After a very rough undergraduate experience with little to no support from faculty and staff, he realized if a program like this would have been on campus his chances of success would have been even higher. This motivated him to create the initiative to give Black male scholars the support they need for overall success. Dr. Sheppard loves working out and teaching tumbling classes to kids. Seeing scholars become better than when they first started college, finding their purpose and passion is a great meaningful moment for him!
Brandy Bryson, Ph.D., M.S.W.
Dr. Brandy Bryson serves as the Director of Inclusive Excellence, associate professor and the Cone Hall faculty-in-residence. Originally from Atlanta Georgia, Brandy was a first-generation college student who attended the University of Georgia and earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Sociology followed by her Masters of Social Work. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina and is a sociologist of race, systemic racism and education. When asked about her passion for, and commitment to, the Black Male Excellence Initiative, Brandy shared: I have personally experienced and I have witnessed the need to support students who might need additional support in an educational system not set up for us. As a first-generation college student from a working class family, I struggled to figure it all out-- from financial aid forms to academic help to mental health support and everything in between-- and I hustled to make ends meet. When I became a social worker in a predominantly Black school district in Georgia, I saw more clearly the inequities that Black youth face in our educational systems. This is why I returned to school to study race and racism in society and the connection to schooling. Now, I support faculty in making their teaching more equitable and culturally relevant in a way that draws from the strengths and cultural capital of their students of Color. I believe strongly that anti-racist education is the only way to educate. My work is spiritual and springs from a deep well of compassion and a desire for transformation. In addition to her love for people, Brandy enjoys history, movies, music, SEC football, sports cars, and dancing.
Lee began serving as Executive Director of the Disco Student Learning Center in June, 2020. An active member of the South Eastern College Learning Center Association (SECLCA) and the National College Learning Center Association (NCLCA), he has presented at regional and national conferences on developing technological advances to help increase access and remove barriers to services. Lee is committed to seeing the Disco Student Learning Center earn the NCLCA Learning Center of Excellence designation and become a valued resource for all App State students.
Prior to coming to Appalachian, Lee worked in the Student Support Services Program, at Mars Hill University, a private liberal arts university in Mars Hill, NC. Additionally, while serving within the department, Lee coordinated the design and implementation of seminars and program initiatives focused on student development. While at MHU, Lee also taught First Year Seminar courses to general population students and to at-risk populations focusing on academic success strategies and leadership development from a Christian world-view.
A first generation, low-income student from McDowell County, NC, Lee earned a B.A. in Sociology and a B.A. in Spanish from Mars Hill College in 2004. He earned a Master of Liberal Arts degree from UNC-Asheville in 2011, while researching Sustainability through the lenses of Environmental Sociology and the Sociology of Religion.
When not at work, Lee enjoys spending time with his family: his wife, Faith, and their two children; Titus, and Cora Lynne. Together they enjoy outdoor adventures like mountain biking, camping, and hiking. Lee is also an ordained minister in the Free Will Baptist Church.
Members of the Black Male Excellence Initiative will have the opportunity to:
- Foster a community of respect
- Explore and evaluate personal interests and careers
- Develop connections with faculty, staff, and students associated with the Department of Wellness & Prevention Services as well as the Student Learning Center, other departments, and stakeholders
- Work with the Resident Assistant to develop community standards
Members of the Black Male Excellence Initiative will be expected to:
- Actively engage with the Leadership Team
- Participate in community and campus-sponsored events and activities
- Support the academic success of community members
- Become involved in developing community standards and planning the future of the community
- Enroll in the Wakanda Warriors: Black Male Excellence linked First Year Seminar course
Black Males will gain the following with the program:
- Sense of Belonging
- Academic Achievement
- Personal and Community Development
- Major and Career Development
- Holistic Approach to Self Confidence in Life's Journey
Department of Wellness & Prevention Services
The Department of Wellness & Prevention Services (opens in a new tab) offers services promoting health awareness and active lifestyles, helping students make choices to facilitate a better quality of life by making healthy decisions. It is an extension of Student Health Services and is Appalachian State University's central resource for health education information, programs, events, and services.
Student Learning Center
The Student Learning Center (opens in a new tab) serves students in gaining a deeper awareness of what helps them learn and succeed through tutoring, academic strategy instruction, and executive skill development. We provide holistic support for all students at Appalachian State University, empowering them to become active participants in a transformative education to meet their academic goals and achieve their academic potential.
Belk Library and Information Commons
The University Libraries support and foster a respectful, supportive, and inclusive educational and social learning environment and experiences for students through services, collections, teaching, learning, and technology. For more information on services and resources, please explore Belk Library's website (opens in a new tab) or get in touch with the First Year Experience Librarian (opens in a new tab).
Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as engaged global citizens who understand their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Office of Admissions (opens in a new tab) furthers this mission by recruiting, admitting, and enrolling a diverse and competitive body of undergraduate students whose experiences and talents benefit the Appalachian community. As the front door to Appalachian, our leadership in service and collaboration with campus partners sets the tone for the unique experience awaiting future Mountaineers.