Caring of New students Experiencing College Transition (CONECT), a mentoring organization at the University of Louisville, recently did just that when it recognized African American students who have achieved a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

More than 500 students were eligible to attend.

I think the idea of the recognition reception is really important, said Ricky Jones, Pan-African Studies professor and the guest speaker at the reception. I think its sad how at every level we are much more prone to recognize African American students who are outstanding athletes than we are to recognize African American students who are outstanding students.

CONECT faculty adviser Tomarra Adams started the African American Recognition Reception as an annual event in 1997 to have a positive effect on African American students. While the CONECT program mentors freshmen, the reception honors students at all levels of their academic careers.

With a general retention rate for African American college students of 43 percent, compared to 63 percent for white students, CONECT knows that students need to stay engaged and connected in order to succeed.

There’s tons of research literature out there that suggests that the more connected a student feels to school, the better they will do in school, thus increasing academic achievement (and) further perpetuating academic success to graduation, said Staeshe Collins, student coordinator for CONECT’s mentor program.

One of several UofL mentoring programs and first-year resources in place to help students  through their transition from high school to college, CONECT is the only mentoring group specifically for African American students.

Brittany Barnes had a CONECT mentor as a freshman and returned to the program to mentor others the following year.

Developing a relationship with the students they mentor is a key component of CONECT, she said.

 We stick by our mentees throughout the whole year, meeting with them and working towards developing a relationship with them she said.