College Board Fellow Jermaine Wright On Increasing Opportunity for Men of Color in Higher Education
College Board Fellow Jermaine Wright On Increasing Opportunity for Men of Color in Higher EducationMichael Preston, Senior Communications Specialist
Growing up in the West Indies, Jermaine Wright was unaware of the ways race can hamper social mobility.
“In Jamaica, race as a social construct had no bearing as we were all Jamaicans,” Wright explained. “Class, on the other hand, determined how one would be treated and the opportunities you were afforded. In the Jamaican system of inequality, an increase in income signaled a change in status.” But once his family moved to the United States, Wright began to understand just how significant an impediment race can be to improving one’s life.
“Unbeknownst to me, my family’s migration to America meant that we were leaving one system of inequity for another,” he said. “In the American system of inequity escape is far more challenging, because the inequity is predicated on race and the color of one’s skin.”
As he formed an understanding of the entrenched structural challenges that many minority groups face here, Wright set out to address them through a career dedicated to providing expanded educational opportunities and improved social justice outcomes. As a College Board fellow, Wright works to create a level playing field for men of color through the City University of New York’s Black Male Initiative (BMI), a program designed to increase, encourage, and support the number of students from underrepresented groups in higher education. As interim university director of the Black Male Initiative, Wright oversees 32 campus-based projects focused on improving diversity recruitment, providing structured mentoring opportunities, and creating inclusive academic programming for students of color.
In addition to his work with the BMI, Wright is both a student and adjunct professor at the Rutgers University School of Public Affairs and Administration. He is scheduled to complete work on his Ph.D. in public administration in 2016, and will offset some of the cost of his remaining dissertation credits with the financial award he received from his College Board fellowship.
Wright also holds a master’s degree in public administration from the City University of New York (CUNY) and a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton. Previously, he was an adjunct professor at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., and a regional program manager for the National Urban League.