Learning to Lead: Behavioral Sciences Major Michael Madison

“Black History Month is a time to recognize all contributions that African-American individuals have given, not only to us, but to the world,” said senior behavioral sciences major Michael Madison, right, with a mentee (Dillon Adams photo).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

(Editor’s note: In celebration of Black History Month, we profiled five campus leaders. Here’s the fourth in the series.)

For Michael Madison, there’s a clear line connecting his past, present and future.

This behavioral sciences senior grew up in South Central Los Angeles and attended Crenshaw High School.

After enrolling at Los Angeles Southwest College for football, Madison realized a four-year university would be a better fit. However, once at SJSU, he was off to a rocky start.

“In the beginning, I was lost in the shuffle and fell through the cracks,” he said.

All that changed when he joined SJSU’s Educational Opportunity Program.

Making connections

Madison now maintains a 3.0 GPA and is a member of the Gospel Choir and Black Student Union. In January, he joined Leadership Today, which he says was one of the best experiences he’s had at SJSU.

He also mentors 10 students with EOP’s “I Can/I Will” program, created last summer to provide academic support for incoming freshmen, transfer students, Guardian Scholars, and male Latino and African-American students.

“I tell students that I can’t tutor them, but I can give them connections,” Madison said. “I have been through a lot of the things that they will face.”

Madison’s favorite part of his job is that his mentees feel comfortable enough to come to him for answers.

“Not a day goes by without them texting me or wanting a conversation,” Madison said.

His inspiration comes from his grandmother, who raised him, and Cornel West, the African-American scholar, author, and activist.

“He’s an intellectual of our time and needs to be recognized more, especially in the black community and within our schools,” Madison said.

Celebrating innovation

For Madison, Black History celebrates ancestors who were innovators and who secured access to resources including education.

“We wouldn’t have a lot of things like open-heart surgery or the signal light,” Madison said. “Also, without Little Rock, we wouldn’t have been integrated in schools.”

One day, Madison hopes to build an academy for troubled Latino and African-American youth to share not just what but how he has learned at SJSU.

“In my experience, SJSU really cares,” he said. “They make it easy to be accessible and successful.”

That sense of caring is integral to Madison’s views on leadership, reflecting in his favorite quote.

“You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people,” West said. “You can’t save the people if you don’t serve the people.”

Business Admin Major Michelle Elliott: Believing in Unseen Potential

Business Admin Major Michelle Elliott: Believing in Unseen Potential

Michelle sitting at an outdoor table with a young lady she mentors.

“Black History Month is a time to look back at the ensconced lives of African American families, regaining our perspective on the strength, endurance and power we possess as a people,” said senior business administration major Michelle Elliott (Dillion Adams photo).

(Editor’s note: In celebration of Black History Month, we profiled five campus leaders. Here’s the second in the series.)

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

Although she attended three different San Jose high schools before graduating, it wasn’t until Michelle Elliott had nearly completed her associate’s degree at Evergreen Valley College that she knew attending San Jose State was possible.

“That was the first time I realized I had the potential and ability to pursue my dreams,” said the senior business administration major. “I also knew that there was so much more I wanted to learn.”

Elliott is a student and employee mentor of the Educational Opportunity Program, which supports first generation, low-income, historically disadvantaged students.

Taking a Leap of Faith

She enjoys working with students that come from such backgrounds, but who do not let circumstances dictate their futures.

“They are taking a leap of faith and making a decision to challenge themselves because they believe they are worth it,” Elliott said.

Elliott also enjoys working with the EOP staff, which she says offers a gracious, motivating and structured environment for success.

“There is a great deal of community support, opportunities, and integrated projects, giving the students a fulfilling experience while attending school here,” Elliott said.

Getting Through Tough Times

Although Elliott’s inspiration comes from the students she mentors, she turns to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to get her through the tough times.

“Dr. Martin Luther King impacted my life by revealing the traits and characteristics of selflessness and love,” Elliott said.

Elliott’s support and encouragement helps fellow students transition to college life and adds to her personal growth.

“My favorite aspect of my job is working with students like myself, who believe in their hearts that there is more to their being than what they currently see,” she said.

This is reflected in her favorite quote: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy path,” Proverbs 3:5-6.

Group shot of several hundred EOP students on Tower Lawn.

Educational Opportunity Program Moves to the Heart of Campus

Students, a professor and the provost cut the ribbon on new offices.

Professor Maria Alaniz, Associate Vice President for Student Academic Success Services Maureen Scharberg, students Ashlee Jemmott and Michelle Elliott, and Provost Gerry Selter cut the ribbon on new offices for EOP and Guardian Scholars.

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

More than 2,700 students now have a campus home away from home thanks to a five-year campaign to restore SJSU’s Educational Opportunity Program.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said EOP Director Debra Griffith at the grand opening of the program’s new offices. “Thank you for always believing and wanting this to happen, for being so patient until SJSU got this right.”

Students, faculty, staff and administrators gathered Sept. 20 to cut the ribbon on the suite within the Academic Success Center on the ground floor of Clark Hall. The move created an inviting space for the program in the heart of campus, quite far from the Student Services Center in the North Garage.

Showing the University Cares

“The new offices provide more resources and are much more accessible,” student Ashlee Jemmott told the crowd. “This also shows that the university cares a lot about these two programs.”

The suite houses the EOP and Guardian Scholars programs. EOP serves first-generation, low-income, historically disadvantaged students, while Guardian Scholars supports foster youth. Both offer comprehensive educational services including academic advisement, personal and career counseling, and tutorial services.

The programs now share a front desk and sitting area providing EOP and Guardian Scholars a place to catch their breath, socialize and study. The space also includes offices for a new partnership between EOP and the Department of Counselor Education.

“We hired five master’s students, who are each assigned to an EOP adviser,” Griffith said. “Advisers receive supervision experience and assistance. Interns learn the ins and outs of advising and gain professional experience by managing small projects and a small advising case load of their own.”

Passion and Commitment

At the grand opening, Professor of Social Science and SJSU alumna Maria Luisa Alaniz recalled how SJSU’s EOP was among the best in the state in the 1970s, then declined until 2007, when 200 people and 25 organizations signed a petition urging administrators to restore services.

“We were passionate, committed, and would not take no for an answer,” Alaniz said.

Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Gerry Selter thanked former presidents Don W. Kassing and Jon Whitmore for supporting the effort, which dovetailed well with CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed’s Graduation and Retention Initiative.

“Our goal was to given EOP a home that was central and visible, and here it is,” Selter said.