Make It Happen

African-American Males in Higher Education

A Southside Virginia Community College Retention and Recruitment Program

Make It Happen EventOverview

Historically, African-American male students have been significantly less successful than their female and white counterparts relative to retention and graduation rates. Southside Virginia Community College initiated MAKE IT HAPPEN in the fall of 1998 in an effort to enhance the academic success of these students. This comprehensive program provides meaningful activities for participants and establishes an institutional climate supportive of the success of African-American males.


MAKE IT HAPPEN is designed to:

  • Ensure the availability of academic support services in subject areas determined by individual student needs
  • Ensure meaningful contact between program participants and college faculty and staff
  • Promote academic achievement as evidenced by a GPA of 2.0 or better, continued enrollment through three semesters, and graduation and/or transfer within six semesters of enrollment


A variety of activities including are available to MAKE IT HAPPEN participants. Individual and group counseling activities focus on family and peer relations, along with physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. MAKE IT HAPPEN participants attend an annual goal planning retreat where they are able to identify both long and short term goals, along with related strategies, potential barriers, and opportunities for success. Participants are encouraged to seek and assume leadership positions in a variety of campus clubs and organizations, and on college committees. Additionally, students are given the opportunity to attend a number of leadership development activities included the National Black Student Leadership Conference. These activities are intended to provide opportunities to enhance the academic experience, promote adjustment to the college environment, and encourage the development of a positive self-image.

Academic support

Academic support activities are an essential component of MAKE IT HAPPEN. Academic Support Seminars provide information and training on note taking and study skills, test taking strategies, time management, and overcoming test anxiety. Peer tutors, under the direction of program staff, are used to provide academic support in subject areas determined by student need. Attempts are made to identify tutors who have succeeded at overcoming barriers similar to those confronting program participants.


MAKE IT HAPPEN program participants have become a visible and well-respected learning group within the Southside Virginia Community College community. College administrators, faculty, and staff value the program and support program activities as appropriate. Program participants consistently meet or exceed anticipated program outcomes related to academic achievement as measured by grade point average, retention, and persistence toward goals.


John Hicks, 434-949-1070 or