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GSW student shares experience as member of African-American Male Initiative

AMERICUS, GA (February 28, 2023) – Georgia Southwestern State University student Kenneth “K.J.” Daniels spoke on his personal experience as a member of the African-American Male Initiative (AAMI) during a webinar on Black Male Initiatives and Retention and Completion Outcomes as part of the Transformative Conversations Series hosted by the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education.

Daniels, a junior chemistry major and computer science minor, was recommended to speak on the webinar by the director of GSW’s AAMI program, Ervin Anderson. Presenting alongside Daniels was Wanda Gross, director of the AAMI for the University System of Georgia (USG). Both discussed the AAMI program, created in 2001 by the Board of Regents, which is a system-wide initiative aimed at increasing the number of African-American males who complete their postsecondary education from any of the 26 USG institutions. 

“I'm grateful I was personally asked to share my experiences about how the African-American Male Initiative has impacted me,” said Daniels. “It allowed me to reflect upon how beneficial the AAMI program here at GSW is and how Mr. Anderson and others on campus have helped us in several ways. I plan to help the AAMI strive to become even better with the connections I've made along the way so that I can help prospects of AAMI and GSW alike.” 

Anderson, affectionately known as “Mr. A”, recommended Daniels for the webinar “because of his calm demeanor for presentations and his personal want to do things right. Also, his ability to explain the very goals of the program.” 

Longtime mathematics faculty member and now senior lecturer emeritus, Anderson helped establish the AAMI program on GSW’s campus in 2008 where he has served 33 years as director impacting over 700 participants since its inception using the model of academic excellence and social responsibility.

After joining AAMI as a freshman in 2020, Daniels credits the program and Anderson for propelling his curricular and co-curricular experience at GSW.

“Mr. Anderson is like a grandfather to me,” stated Daniels on the webinar. “He takes time to speak with us individually, making sure we’re attending class, taking advantage of the tutoring center, and continually building our resume. He has instilled in us to keep track of our grades, activities such as clubs and organizations, internships, and scholarships.”

Daniels currently receives the Achieving the Dream Scholarship and serves as president of the Chemistry Club and as a study abroad ambassador after traveling to Nepal in Summer 2022 to study abroad. 

He says the AAMI program has given him many insights on how to network and he has a job position because of the program. Daniels plans to travel to other universities and attend conferences to share about AAMI. 

AAMI’s mission is to provide an integrated program model of academic and social tools that support students around adopting a positive mindset to successfully complete classes, elevate their cumulative GPAs, matriculate through each academic level and graduate.

Watch the full webinar on the Gardner Institute’s YouTube channel.


About John N. Gardner Institute

The John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education is a non-profit organization dedicated to partnering with colleges, universities, philanthropic organizations, educators, and other entities to increase institutional responsibility for improving outcomes associated with teaching, learning, retention, and completion.