Craig Day, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- It's graduation time all across Green Country. TCC's commencement is Friday evening at the Mabee Center.
One grad says he owes a great deal to a mentoring program at TCC designed to help African American men.
At Greg Walston's Tulsa home, the food is ready, and the hugs are going around. They're celebrating.
"I'm just thanking God for this day," said Henryetta Walston, Greg's Mother.
Greg will soon go through Tulsa Community College's commencement.
"It's been a journey. I'm really excited. I halfway couldn't sleep last night," Walston said.
Walston gives a lot of credit to a program where African American college professionals at TCC mentor African American male students.
"Not settle for failure, just move forward, keep going, keep pushing. That's the main word he used to say, keep pushing," he said.
The man who kept encouraging Greg is Mike Singleton.
"More than anything, just seeing him not give up, knowing that it was difficult but completing it all the way through, oh it just brings joy to my heart," Singleton said. "The goal is to increase success for a group that has traditionally been underrepresented in higher education."
TCC says only 16 percent of it's African American male students, finish their degrees. The mentor program drives home an important message.
"We're in your corner, we're supporting you all the way, we're a community, we're a family, we're a brotherhood and we'll be here for you, and I think just more in the African American community, I think it's needed just a little bit more," Singleton said.
In Walston's case, he tried college once before after high school.
"Timing just wasn't right, I kind of had some stuff going on, I had a death and my father just passed away, and a few other family members passed away and I just wasn't focused," he said.
Now at 32, and a husband and father, he's getting a degree exactly two years to the day after being laid off from his job.
His family is celebrating the academic accomplishment and the unique program that helped make it happen.
"I really do believe it will really change lives," Walston said.
"Keep moving forward and you must give back," Singleton said.
Greg Walston next wants to get a Sociology degree from Langston, and to become a counselor or social worker. He plans to mentor others in the future.
Based on the success of the mentoring program, TCC is working to expand it to include other student groups.