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Eddie Wins Equity Award
November 21, 2007

Jermale EddieA Calvin College staff member has earned the Equity in Higher Education Award from the Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (MACRAO).

Jermale Eddie, the program coordinator for Calvin’s multicultural student development office, won the award for his work with the Tapestry Leadership Program, an effort to  integrate African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American (AHANA) students more fully into every facet of college life.

“This program is all about the students,” Eddie said, “The only way to be successful at meeting the needs of the students is to ask what they need, to listen and to act.”

Eddie, who received the award at a November 8 luncheon at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel during the MACRAO annual conference, came to Calvin in 2003. Since that time, he has worked on developing Tapestry, which is funded by a Michigan Select Student Support Services grant to increase the support and retention of AHANA students.

Tapestry combines academic support, peer networks, mentoring opportunities, leadership development experiences and goal-setting assistance to enable AHANA students to have a well-rounded Calvin experience. Through Tapestry Eddie has provided AHANA students with leadership retreats, opportunities to attend conferences, Bible studies, seminars, lecture series and special dinners.

One key component of Tapestry is the Ambassador Mentorship program, which was created to retain incoming AHANA students by providing them with junior and senior student mentors. Under Eddie’s  leadership, and funded by a $10,000 grant from the Daimler Chrysler Minority Retention Award program, the Ambassador program expanded last year to offer mentors to sophomore students as well—an effort to mitigate the “sophomore slump” that causes many minority students to quit college.

A big part of his job, Eddie stressed is forging relationships with the students: “I work at making students feel at home. Student can’t survive or succeed at Calvin or any other institution where they feel like they’re aliens,” he said. “So I took it upon myself to get into the business of students, to ask how their family is doing or ask how their girlfriend- boyfriend relationship is going, or ask how life in general in going. Students know that they can call me any time of the day or night, and I’ll be there for them.”

“He is just a topnotch relational person,” said Jacqueline Rhodes, the assistant dean of multicultural student development. “He is so good at drawing students into his office and developing one-on-one relationships with them and then going beyond that to create a community from those relationships. And he has good ideas and does the work to back them up.”

To succeed at AHANA recruitment and retention, Eddie stressed, it is essential for all Calvin and other institutions to be collaborative. “You need to share ideas with other departments, offices, organizations—both on-campus and community organizations— and with other institutions of higher education because you don’t want to recreate the wheel,” he said. “Also, the more partners you have, the more people you have working together, the more ideas you have, and the more money you’ll have.”

He considers the Equity in Education award as an honor for everyone who has worked in multicultural student development at Calvin. “I feel like it’s a recognition that’s due to those who have come before me, those who are here now and those who are to come— AHANA faculty staff and students and their supporters—for their struggles, for their stresses, for their success, for all that they have to go through while they’re the minority populations. So, I would say it represents the AHANA legacy, so to speak.”

~written by Calvin staff writer Myrna Anderson


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