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Student Spotlight, Diversity, General Information, Media Advisory

Dinner with a Cause: Calvin Mackie Encourages LSU Black Male Students

10/21/2013 03:13 PM

BATON ROUGE – Nearly 20 black male students, including eight LSU Black Male Leadership Initiative, or BMLI, Fellows recently attended an informal dinner with internationally renowned motivational speaker Calvin Mackie, following Mackie’s open forum with the LSU community.

Mackie, a lifelong resident of New Orleans, graduated from high school with low SAT scores requiring him to undertake special remedial classes before he was admitted to Morehouse College. He completed his degree in mathematics, graduating Magna Cum Laude and a member of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society. He was simultaneously awarded a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech, where he subsequently earned his master’s and doctorate in mechanical engineering.

The group of students, from various majors and classifications, joined Mackie and Kenneth Miles, interim vice provost of Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach, at Juban’s Restaurant in Baton Rouge. The group openly discussed various topics related to how black men can overcome personal trials, persevere through academically rigorous programs, and the role of a black man within family structures.  

Miles shared that more conversation surrounding these topics are desperately needed at LSU.  

“His story demystifies the statistics of black males in the U.S. It is his story that leaves a deep impression on the culture of blacks that can literally break the educational cycle for first-generation students,” said Miles. “His message inspires and instills social and moral responsibility that can show the synergy between education and professional development.”
LSU-BMLI Fellows received advice related to personal success and how to have an impact in their community.  

“The most important thing that I learned about my talk with Dr. Mackie is that you must never be afraid to go after your dream because people that follow their passion are the ones that are most successful,” said BMLI Fellow and Civil Engineering Junior Christopher Baron-Hyppolite. “I realized that I should never be satisfied and that I should follow my dream to have positive impact on the global community.”

Mackie also offered advice on how to handle the struggles of being a black male in college.  

“Dr. Mackie spoke about how African Americans confine ourselves into a box that stops us from our capabilities. We are the products of our future and anything can be accomplished if we work hard for it,” said Anthony Jenkins, BMLI Fellow and kinesiology sophomore.

“We always welcome opportunities for our fellows to take part in critical dialogue. Dr. Mackie’s visit is just one opportunity to continue the conversation on the educational success of black male students,” said Chaunda Allen, director of the LSU Black Male Leadership Initiative.

Additionally, two BMLI Fellows felt that Mackie’s advice would help them achieve more in the LSU community.  

“Mackie told me that success breeds success. For every achievement and goal I reach, I must strive for even higher goals to be as successful as possible,” said Dominique McShan, BMLI Fellow and mass communication sophomore.  

“Dr. Mackie’s talk gave me the insight that, it’s important as an educated African American male to go out into the community and extend a hand to those in need,” said Ricky Richard, BMLI Fellow and  kinesiology junior. “It is important to inspire others to get an education because education holds the key to freedom.”

Mackie’s visit compliments the diversity related goals of LSU.

“The purpose of bringing someone of this caliber accentuates the four goals of LSU’s Flagship 2020 agenda. He represents diversity, learning, engagement and discovery,” said Miles.  

Mackie’s visit was sponsored by the LSU Office of Strategic Initiatives’ I3 Project; the Office of Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach; the LSU- Black Male Leadership Initiative; and the College of Science.

“Dr. Calvin Mackie’s educational and life experiences enable him to dynamically engage black men,” said Gloria Thomas, program director for the Office of Strategic Initiatives. “His story is truly inspirational to all students, but especially relatable for the black male students in our community.”

The BMLI Fellows Program is a retention and leadership development program established by the LSU Office of Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. For more information or to support BMLI, contact Allen at 225-578-4339 or Vincent Harris at 225-578-7020, email at or visit the BMLI website at

LSU Media Relations