Marcus Jenkins Fayetteville State student and founder of R.O.O.T.S. Mentoring program has made it his duty to gather a team of 17 students with a mission to influence and motivate the student population of Alger B. Wilkins High School. When asked why he chose Wilkins, he explained that by mentoring Alger B. Wilkins he is getting a chance to mentor all the students who come from other schools. Wilkins happens to be a school of opportunity for students who need another chance.
R.O.O.T.S Mentoring started as an internship that Jenkins had with Cumberland County Schools. Jenkins aims for the students that he and his fellow mentors look after to overcome the statistics placed on the Black community. According to the Department of Education, Black high school students drop out at higher rates than White (although less than Hispanic), and graduate at lower rates. The last thing they want is for the students they mentor to become statistics.
“We are trying to reverse that factor,” said Jenkins.
The student organization spends time in and out of the classroom in order to make a difference in at least one student’s day. They do so by being relatable to the students on different levels, and being transparent.
Kathleen Jones stated that: “My past has not been the most perfect. You can’t step into a situation perfect, especially when someone else feels imperfect.”
Jones is using that imperfection to create more perfect mentoring. One of the students she mentored, Moesha King, left the conversation with Jones feeling inspired. “We connected. I don’t have that support at home,” said King.
The mentoring program tries to be that extra support necessary in order for the students of Wilkins to prosper.
“We try to be a projection of them 3 years from now. So that they can view Black excellence,” said Jenkins. The program motivates not only the students at Alger B. Wilkins, but also the FSU students involved.
The students involved in R.O.O.T.S Mentoring have been faithfully visiting Alger B. Wilkins for the last year on a weekly basis, every Wednesday and Thursday.
“It is a sacrifice on our parts. I am here to work harder for [them]. If I don’t help, then why am I here,” said Jones.
The efforts of the FSU mentors have not gone to waste. Ja’vonte Baker a soon-to-be graduate of Alger B. Wilkins believes that they are “trying to help the students around here. The students have a more positive mindset since they came.” And because of seeing such a positive influence he plans on attending Fayetteville Technical Community College in the fall.
Another student personally influenced by the mentoring program, 17-year-old Aaron Humphries, said, “I can see doors opening everyday.”