NAACP Broward College Chapter

Passing Torch: Broward College Professor Works to Establish NAACP Student Chapter

Since the day his godmother lit a fire under him as a kid, Dr. Robert Morris has borne the responsibility of passing the torch in the civil rights movement to the next generation of social activists.

“We would talk about civil rights in class, and my students would ask, ‘Why don’t we have a NAACP chapter,’ and I didn’t know,” said Morris, a professor of American History at Broward College. “And, then they asked if we could start a chapter, and I said, ‘Absolutely.’”

Dr. Morris expects the new Broward College National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter to gain official recognition from the organization’s national headquarters, Tuesday, October 15. When it does, the 25 members at Broward College will form the first student chapter in the county and will join the University of Miami, Florida International University, and Florida Memorial as branches with higher education addresses in South Florida.

“It’s about building leadership,” said Morris. “Our goal is to look at issues that are not only affecting African-Americans around the country but other minorities as well. It’s a matter of getting students involved and making them aware.”

A lifelong member of the NAACP, Morris had a head start setting the wheels in motion to establish a student chapter at Broward College. His godmother is Dr. Shirley Johnson, a former vice president of the NAACP Miami-Dade branch who, as a teen in the ‘60s, was jailed several times for demonstrating in support of desegregation.

Film: Brown v. Board of Education

NAACP Broward College ChapterMorris said the first formal chapter meeting is scheduled for November, but that will not stop him and his students from raising awareness surrounding equal rights concerns. The chapter will host a presentation of the film “Brown v. Board of Education,” Monday, October 28, in the Student Activity Center on Judson A. Samuels South Campus. A discussion will follow the film, which marks the 65th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision that ruled racial segregation in public schools to be unconstitutional.

“Maybe some students have heard about the court decision, but probably not in-depth,” said Morris. “We want to share information and begin to open up conversations. We can’t just expect students to know everything. It’s our responsibility to educate them.”

Morris is dedicated to doing his part to inform and engage. To start the academic year, he and a group of Broward College students attended the 2019 Freedom Fund Soiree, a black-tie affair at the Dodge Center in Pembroke Pines to celebrate the NAACP’s 31 years of service to Miami-Dade County.

“I’m a community person,” said Morris, who is active in Broward UP™ and the Minority Male Initiative. “I’m always interested in giving back. If not me, then who?”

Broward College students committed to equal justice across all groups and addressing issues facing the nation can get involved with the campus chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. For more information about the NAACP, email rmorris1@broward.edu


Raysean Lockhart

Home Free: Broward College Grad Now Owns Keys to His Future

Keeping up with his coursework during the day was as hard as the floors he slept on at night. Raysean Lockhart was without a place he could call his own while he attended Broward College, couch-surfing from one home to another, always looking over his shoulder, worried that he had shifted the weight of his world to the back of the friend or relative kind enough to give him a place to stay.

The good thing is that for enough of the day, Raysean could immerse himself in class, safe from the neighborhood crime, drugs, and violence that cast a shadow on his college aspirations.

“I was always worrying about having to study in the dark or under a streetlight when the electric bill had not been paid,” said Raysean, recalling some of the “small obstacles” he faced on the way toward earning an associate degree at Broward College.

Raysean LockhartFor his sake, the future is no longer dim. Sitting in an office at Broward College, dressed in a suit and tie he wears to his part-time job at the law firm Cohen & McMullen, P.A., in Fort Lauderdale, Raysean was eager to begin his next chapter in life after graduating from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in the interdisciplinary Social Sciences.

Safe Place on Campus

Olivia Sarson remembers the beginning of his journey fondly. When they first crossed paths, Sarson was working in enrollment services alongside Taura Parker, who is Raysean’s aunt. Parker would bring her nephew with her to campus to get a glimpse of college life. Until then, Raysean had been witness to “normal things” growing up in Washington Park, like stabbings, shootings and dead-end jobs.

“If you grow up rough, you’ve got to assess where you’re at and where you are going -- and is it a safe place,” said Sarson, who currently directs “Get REAL” at Broward College, a scholarship program for students from challenging backgrounds. “He was literally here every day, and we welcomed him. He had that smile that would make you want to do as much as you can for him.”

Without a scholarship or award in hand, often that meant feeding more than his hunger to learn.

“He was very hungry and would come by my office for food,” said Claudia Sahagun, a professor of Spanish at Broward College. “His life was hard, and the odds were definitely not in his favor, but he was a bright kid who brought lots of resilience to our class.”

Surrounded by Great People

Broward UP organizers intend to send Raysean into the community to spread the word about scholarships, Pell grants and all the opportunities that can make college a doable proposition for students with backgrounds like his.

“Everything I’ve attained is due to the great people God put into my life,” said Raysean, who has dreams of attending Harvard Law School and becoming an advocate for social justice, perhaps, in Washington Park, where many kids are known for all the wrong things. “I want to share everything that I’ve endured to help those who aren’t able to help themselves: you may be going through some hard times, but don’t give up.”

If you are dedicated to promoting opportunity and inspiring residents of Broward County to achieve their highest potential, Broward UP™ is a countywide movement for you to get behind. Here’s how you can partner.


Denise Lewis

After Broward UP™ Training, Single Mother Doing Her Part to Rebuild Native Bahamas

Since leaving the Bahamas for the United States 25 years ago, Denise Lewis has known nothing but hard luck. The 50-year-old single mother of four, who was only beginning to rebound from a divorce that led to foreclosure on her home, was hit with the latest bad bounce. The company she worked with for the past 16 years abruptly announced it had filed for bankruptcy and her job as clerk and shipping liaison was in jeopardy. As she headed home from work to tell her kids, Lewis did her best to put a good face.

“I was scared, but I didn’t want my kids to see me frantic,” said Lewis, already pushed to her limits, juggling the full-time job by day at Sunex International with classes in Marketing Management at Broward College by night. “I didn’t want to look the same way when we lost the house. When I’m scared and jittery, my kids can see it on my face.”

Denise LewisInstead of panicking, Lewis reached out to a case manager at the Urban League, who connected her to Broward UP™. The community-centric approach launched by Broward College last year aims to break down barriers to education and improve social mobility and economic development. Broward UP supports communities in zip codes across the county where unemployment is high and postsecondary education attainment levels are low.

For the remainder of the summer, while the courts evaluated her company’s bankruptcy petition, Lewis left work in Deerfield Beach, stopped to pick up her kids, drop them off at their home in Pompano Beach, then rushed to the Broward UP evening classes at Urban League facilities in Fort Lauderdale. Her drive to improve her life culminated with certification in Supply Chain Management

“Even though half of the staff had already lost their jobs,” said Lewis. “I was no longer as concerned because I had certified skills that were marketable.”

Certified and Marketable

With an updated resume in hand, Lewis interviewed with Atlass Hardware Corporation, the company that was purchasing the holdings of her former employer. The new owners asked about her certification.

“I was able to tell them how supply chain management relates to my current responsibilities, and they saw that I was also taking courses in marketing management,” said Lewis. “They liked my ambition.”

Lewis liked the new job offer more. Not only would she be rehired as an export billing and compliance administrator, Atlass agreed to boost her salary by $10,000.

“I was like ‘wow,” said Lewis. “Celebration is not the word. Right now, money is tight. I do my budget every two weeks, and there’s never enough. The extra income will offset a lot.”

Hurricane Relief

The money is nice, but these days, Lewis considers the work she does just as valuable. Most of the customers she assists live in the Bahamas. She is responsible for ensuring the islands get the hardware they need to rebuild from the devasting damage left by Hurricane Dorian.

“I’m in touch with my hometown every day,” said Lewis, who is eager to assist her native country in any capacity she can. “My mom and dad are safe, but there are family members in Abaco we haven’t heard from yet.”

As many as 10,000 Bahamians remain homeless. Lewis hopes the generators, the flashlights, and the batteries she coordinates for shipment provide some relief. She remembers the time, not too long ago, when she herself was homeless, living off handouts from local ministries. Things are different now, she believes. She is rebuilding her credit — the poor decisions behind her, stable employment ahead of her.

“People don’t always bounce back,” said Lewis, who boasts of one son in the Air Force, the other starting a business. “Life is definitely getting better.”

If you are dedicated to promoting opportunity and pushing residents of Broward County to achieve their highest potential, Broward UP™ is a countywide movement for you to get behind. Here’s how you can partner.


Gabriel De Moura

Student Trustee Hopes to Revamp Student Organizations on Campus

If you were to take a look at Gabriel De Moura’s calendar, you would feel overwhelmed. Gabriel is always on the go and making the most out of his time as a Broward College student: he’s enrolled full-time in the Professional Pilot program and serves as the student body president in the Student Government Association (SGA) at South Campus.

On top of that, he serves as the first student trustee in the Board of Trustees meetings for the 2019-20 academic year – a role that will rotate between the student president of each main campus. His participation follows a measure approved by the board in April to have a student government campus president sit on the dais of its meetings and workshops. “It is a huge responsibility for me to represent my peers in front of the board and I’m honored I have this opportunity. It was an eye-opening moment to be able to voice our concerns and create a conversation between students and decision-makers,” says Gabriel.

The Peculiar Child

Gabriel De MouraThe 21-year-old was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but had a challenging childhood. His parents divorced when he was three years old, and moved around quite a lot, to different cities, houses, and neighborhoods.

“Moving around as much as I did, it was difficult to make friends. Besides, I had peculiar interests… while all kids my age were listening to Brazilian pop songs, I was pretty much into American culture from very early on,” says Gabriel. “Playing videogames was my main hobby and it made me want to learn English, so I could understand what I was playing.”

Gabriel has grown up to appreciate the lessons learned during his childhood. Moving around taught him to be open to meet new people, to welcome adventure and new experiences.

Seizing Second Chances

During elementary and middle school, Gabriel was very active in extracurricular activities. He would enter all types of competitions, from junior Olympics to astronomy and physics tournaments. But it all changed in high school, when his motivation wavered after he learned that his dream of joining the Brazilian Air Force was a no-go – he was told he needed to wear glasses, which instantly disqualified him to join. He found a way to follow his dream on a slightly different way: he will become a commercial pilot and would like to work for Emirates Airlines.

Thanks to his mother’s resolution, Gabriel was able to attend his senior year of high school at an American school in Michigan, which lifted his spirits. He was back to his younger self, participating on the football and wrestling teams.

“My mother’s determination was critical in getting me where I am right now. Finishing up my high school in Michigan gave me the push I needed to get back on track and make something of myself,” says Gabriel.

It’s All About Opportunity

With a laser-like focus, Gabriel knows exactly what his goals are. He is adamant that his time as student trustee will be well-spent. His main objective: to overhaul student activities. If anyone can testify to their significance in a students’ life, it is Gabriel.

“Broward College is very supportive of student-run clubs and organizations. However, I feel there are some things that can still be improved,” says Gabriel. “My main concern is the professional connections that students are exposed to. I see they are lacking and I feel that’s a wasted opportunity.”

Gabriel is a strong believer that the focus of the student organizations on campus should shift towards providing more professional connections between the students and future employers and colleagues. And he hopes these connections can be sponsored by the College. “I know that Broward College is committed to student success and if my peers show their interest in taking such opportunities, I know the College will step up and make it happen,” he says.

An excellent way to build up your resume is to take part in the student-run clubs and organizations while you attend college. Student Life at Broward College is an exciting world. Learn about the different clubs and organizations you can join today. 

Take off to new heights when you enroll in the Aviation program at Broward College.


Arantxa Villegas

After Fleeing Crisis, Broward College Student’s Path is Written in Stars

At the other end of the phone, a muffled voice told him they knew where and when she would get off the school bus. Pedro Villegas feared for his daughter’s safety as he watched the violent protests escalate outside his home, each day plunging Venezuela deeper into political and economic chaos. The threatening call only confirmed what he already knew: it was time to get out of the country.

“It was terrifying,” said Arantxa Villegas, as she shared her story from the safety of the Emil Buehler Aviation Institute at Broward College, some four years removed from when she, her father and mother fled Venezuela to seek political asylum in Florida. “We were being targeted, and we weren’t safe. There wasn’t any choice except to move. We didn’t have a future.”

Although she is miles from the teargas, shootings, and crime experienced in her country, Arantxa is still a little nervous as she moves ahead. That nervous memory is now being replaced by excitement. Thanks to a scholarship from the Jerry Taylor & Nancy Bryant Foundation, the 18-year-old can pursue her dream of becoming an astronaut. The $10,000 annual scholarship is part of a larger $2.98 million gift in support of aviation and avionics education at the Emil Buehler Aviation Institute on South Campus.

Immigrating to the United States has been hard on Arantxa and her family. Her father was a prominent dentist and her mother an established accountant back in Valencia, the third-largest city in Venezuela.

“My parents threw away their careers because they want a future for me,” said Arantxa, who, because she knew basic English, bore the responsibility of helping her parents assimilate. “They didn’t want me to be in Venezuela and in danger all the time. They  just wanted me alive.”

Wants to Be an Astronaut

Arantxa VillegasArantxa struggled to put that misery aside and focus instead on her dream, which stemmed from a family vacation, back when times were better, to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

“I saw a man dressed up as an astronaut and I was like, ‘Oh, wow, I would look good in that,’” said Arantxa. “But, I was told girls don’t become astronauts, especially in Venezuela; that my dream will stay as a dream and never come true.”

Now, nothing will be further from the truth. Upon arriving in the United States, Arantxa and her parents, who do not speak English, first settled in Orlando, where they lived out of a small room, a far cry from the lifestyle they once enjoyed in their native land. A few months later, they moved to Miramar.

Starting Over

At Everglades High School, Arantxa was introduced to drones, further elevating her interest in STEM and a career in aviation. Following graduation, she took classes at Seahawk Summer Academy, where she learned what Broward College had to offer, which included enrollment in the Robert Elmore Honors College and the aerospace program and the Taylor-Bryant Avionics Scholarship.

“Now I have hope,” said Arantxa, who, in addition to her classes, works as an assistant manager at Little Caesar’s, her father as an Uber driver, and mother as an administrative assistant to help the family make ends meet.

South Florida’s aviation sector continues to generate high-value jobs. Learn how enrollment in Broward College aviation degree and certification programs can lead to high-wage, high-demand positions in this vital industry.


Dr. Stephanie Etter

Making Strides Towards Change – Dr. Stephanie Etter is the First Woman Appointed as Dean of Information Technology

When Dr. Stephanie Etter was named the interim dean of Information Technology and Engineering, she was making history. Stephanie is the first woman to occupy the position at Broward College, and she plans to seize the opportunity to bring along much-needed change.

The California University of Pennsylvania alumna found her passion for higher education on the very first day of undergraduate school when she was assigned as a work-study to the office of the vice president of academic affairs. She went on to complete a master’s degree in Business Administration from Carlow University and her Ph.D. in Information Systems and Communications from Robert Morris University.

A Closer Look

Dr. Stephanie EtterAn avid traveler and mother-of-two, Dr. Etter truly enjoys spending time with her family. “We love to be on the go. Traveling with my kids is my favorite time,” she says. “Our favorite activity is snorkeling. We tend to stay local, usually going to the Florida Keys.”

When it comes to her professional life, she translates her love for her children to a passion for her students. “She’s student-centric,” says Annie Myers, who works closely with Dr. Etter, as the associate dean of Information Technology. “Her priority is to build a program that will guarantee their success, and she’ll do everything in her power to see that through.”

Dr. Etter started at Broward College as a faculty member for the B.A.S Technology Management program in 2011. “I loved being a faculty member and working with the students,” she explains. “Making that one on one connection is priceless because you hear about the impact you make in their lives and their career decisions, and it’s very rewarding.”

Strengthening the IT Program

As interim dean, Dr. Etter has established short term goals. On her priority list is developing and strengthening relationships with more local workforce partners, getting additional input on the type of skills they expect from graduates, and improving the current curriculum.

“When you work in IT things are always changing, and one of the most exciting parts about this job is to make sure that we stay on top of that and constantly look at what’s out there and what we need to develop to guarantee our students are competitive in the workplace,” she says.

She is currently hard at work to make sure the program keeps its place for the number of state recognized industry certifications awarded to its students at the top of the list. The recent partnership with Wyncode, the development of the Spatial Computing program, and the incorporation of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certification are exciting steps towards the stronger academic curriculum she has in mind.

Creating a Strong Legacy

For Dr. Etter, the responsibility of being dean of Information Technology at Broward College and the first woman to serve in the position is not overlooked. “I’m exceptionally proud of this opportunity. Women are underrepresented in the field, and I hope that the work that I do as dean inspires other women to pursue a career in IT.”

Although it’s been just a few weeks since taking over the helm of the department, she is already leaving strong impressions among her peers. “She’s sharp, intelligent, and kind,” says Dr. Myers. “And it’s just wonderful to have a woman that supports and promotes women in IT and other STEM fields, so we are extremely excited to have her lead the way in our program.”

As inclusion is generating changes in Information Technology and other STEM fields, the demand for women in IT is growing. Learn about STEM pathway and the career opportunities within Information Technology.


Anika Omphroy

In Florida House, Former Broward College Student Lends Her Voice to Boost District

Although she was just 13-years-old when officials at Seminole Middle School in Plantation failed to take steps to discourage the racial and ethnic slurs that suddenly began popping up in books and on desktops, Anika Omphroy rallied her classmates to erase the disparaging graffiti themselves and to collect signatures on petitions that decried the offensive attacks.

“I learned at an early age that my voice was my own – and I could use it,” said Omphroy, who, as a 41-year-old newly elected member of the Florida House of Representatives, is still speaking out, but these days on behalf of residents and businesses in District 95 in Broward County, which encompasses parts of Lauderdale Lakes, Lauderhill and North Lauderdale.

A one-time Broward College student and current resident of Lauderdale Lakes, Omphroy was automatically sent to Tallahassee after winning state office unopposed in last year’s November election.

“Running for office was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” said Omphroy, who, to her surprise, learned she had become a Florida lawmaker while ordering a Mint Majesty Tea at a Starbucks drive-thru window. “I would wake up every morning determined to explain to people what my goals are and every day I would get a little bit torn apart – ‘What do you know about this job? You’re too young. You’re too small. You’re too that.’”

Out of Her Element

Anika OmphroyPerceived to be a bit out of her element, Omphroy took pieces of advice and encouragement from others to stitch herself back together and create a vision for what she would like to during her first term. Reducing the poverty rate by five percent in her district, one of the most economically challenged in the state, she said, is within her sights.

“I’m on a mission to look at opportunities that we have to change economic outcomes,” said Omphroy, who has toured the local airport, seaport, and research facilities as well as her old stomping grounds at Broward College to initiate conversations with the county, state and federal stakeholders. “I want to go throughout my district and get people to sign up for apprenticeship programs and to get more people the information they need to change the outcomes of their businesses.”

On Board with Broward UP

That’s why the democrat said she is intrigued by Broward UP™, a community-centric approach established last year by Broward College to address low educational attainment levels and the financial challenges which often accompany them. Among the six Broward County zip codes identified for initial support under Broward UP, three of the zones are in legislative districts that Omphroy represents.

“Helping people – it’s something I do naturally,” said Omphroy, who, as a microbusiness consultant, wants to work with the Innovation Hub at Broward College to support new startups. “There is nothing greater than being able to gently tap someone in the right direction and, then a couple of years later, see them thank you for it.”

Some two decades after transferring from Broward College to complete her bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies at Nova Southeastern University, Omphroy acknowledges that the energy and passion she has for helping others was cultivated as a student. Unpretentious flashbacks, such as the time she couldn’t find her way to a class until another student pointed her in the right direction, are not lost on her.

“It was like the first time I drove a car by myself,” said Omphroy. “Going to Broward College was the first time I got to be in control of my own life. And those are the moments that stay with me.”

If you believe economic circumstances should not determine access to higher education, then Broward UP™ could use your help. Here’s how you can partner.


BC student sets sights on repairing aviation mechanic shortage

Broward College Student Sets Sights on Repairing Aviation Mechanic Shortage

When he was just a kid growing up in Nigeria, Davidson Nzekwe-Daniel would build model airplanes out of paper, cardboard, and tape and power the plastic propellers with a small DC battery. Each time the primitive technology rolled off the table and failed to fly, he wondered why.

“I was in a world all my own,” said Nzekwe-Daniel, who doubles as a student and mechanic at the Emil Buehler Aviation Institute at Broward College. “I needed to learn how these machines work.”

That curiosity and a desire to dissect real turbine jet engines landed him at Broward College two years ago. At the end of the upcoming fall semester, he will graduate with an associate degree in Aviation Maintenance.

Aviation Maintenance students
Davidson, third from the left, collaborates with classmates

Finding a job that is responsible for keeping passengers and flight crew safe shouldn’t be much trouble. A Boeing report estimates that the aviation industry will need 754,000 new aircraft maintenance technicians over the next two decades, more than 80 percent of them for the growing commercial sector. But, while the demand for aviation mechanics is at an all-time high, a headwind looms on the horizon.

Nzekwe-Daniel said Federal Aviation Administration regulations that dictate what aviation programs teach aspiring mechanics had not kept pace with sophisticated industry technology. He can attest. Nzekwe-Daniel needed three attempts to gain the FAA Airframe and Powerplant certification essential for employment.

Airlines Scramble for Technicians

Part of the problem is that the FAA-enforced curriculum is time- rather than competency-based, schools with aviation programs, like Broward College, have only so many credit hours to design an academic program. With little wriggle room to incorporate subject areas beyond those dictated in the 1,900-hour syllabus, Nzekwe-Daniel said some students are unable to reinforce the competencies they need to pass their qualifying exams for FAA licenses in Airframe and Powerplant. As a result, many companies that are scrambling for maintenance technicians have joined educators to urge Congress to legislate the first revisions to the federally authorized curriculum in some 40 years.

Reluctant to wait for the government to step up to the plate, Nzekwe-Daniel, with support from Broward College faculty and administrators, took it upon himself to research a temporary solution. He created a refresher course of sorts, which he dubbed “Curriculum Practical Training, (CPT)” for Broward College aviation students who are determined to bolster their skills leading up to the FAA Practical Test Standards required for Airframe and Powerplant maintenance certification. 

Temporary Solution Takes Off

Nzekwe-Daniel said 25 students at the Aviation Institute completed CPT in June, at no cost. Two students who completed the trial offering in January already obtained FAA Airframe and Power Plant certificates and entered the workforce. Fort Lauderdale-based GA Telesis and Xtreme Aviation in Doral are interested in offering CPT to their employees.

In the meantime, Nzekwe-Daniel relishes the opportunity to spread the word about CPT to other Florida colleges with aviation programs while he promotes the virtues of flight at campus events, job fairs and at K-12 schools in Broward County.

“It’s the most satisfying feeling to help someone get their FAA license and achieve their goals,” said Nzekwe-Daniel. “I love aviation and serving others. My passion is now my purpose.”

As the global fleet of jet airliners expands, the demand for aviation mechanics is predicted to remain strong. Programs of study at the Emil Buehler Aviation Institute at Broward College can lead to FAA certification and help your job prospects soar.


Broward College Graduate Proud to be People's Mayor

Broward College Graduate Proud to be ‘People’s Mayor’

The possibilities were not lost on Justin Flippen when he first started taking classes at Broward College. He had just entered a dual enrollment program that enabled him at 17 years old to begin college coursework on North Campus while he continued to study toward a diploma a few miles down the Florida Turnpike at Coconut Creek High School.

“I’ll never forget sitting in the Honors College and reading about how Parris Glendening, the governor of Maryland, had graduated from Broward College,” said Flippen. “I thought to myself, ‘I may never become a governor or anyone important, but a community college can be a great place to get the tools that I need to succeed.”

A Classroom Challenge Spurs Interest in Representational Politics

Flippen is yet to run for governor, but residents of Wilton Manors believe that he can be just as important. In record numbers last year, they elected the Broward College graduate to serve as their mayor. The vote punctuated a journey into politics for Flippen that traces back to his days at Broward College, when he was challenged by professor Lemuel Molovinsky to defend positions on American History in front of his classmates.

Justin Flippen“As someone who knew he wanted to get involved in politics, I was afraid of speaking in a public setting,” said Flippen, who left Broward College with an associate degree and a 4.0 grade-point average. “But, I had the encouragement of some amazing instructors and speech courses that would prove helpful in my journey.”

Now, Flippen builds on his history as he argues on behalf of the 12,000-plus constituents in Wilton Manors, a cozy island community in Broward County that claims to be the “second-gayest city in America.”

“I am very proud of my city, very proud of my community,” said Flippen, whose mayoral victory made Wilton Manors the first municipality in Florida to elect an all-LGBTQ City Commission. “We are a model city that is all-inclusive. It’s one of our greatest strengths. Most of our residents are not LGBT, but no matter who you are or what color under the rainbow you identify with, you are respected.”

Embracing Identity

Flippen said during his time at Broward College; he wrestled with his sexuality. He found the support to confront his challenges, for the most part, among off-campus gay and lesbian organizations.

“I wasn’t going to be ashamed of who I was,” said Flippen, who, after graduating summa cum laude from Florida Atlantic University, went on to earn a law degree at the University of Florida. “I realized I could be a person grounded in deep and abiding faith. And being gay was a much of a non-sequitur as my eye color.”

In and around Wilton Manors, Flippen is known as the “people’s mayor.” It’s a label he is proud to wear. At his full-time role with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, Flippen is a short walk from where the original Willis B. Holcombe Center once housed Broward College  district offices and classroom space. The building, currently under renovation, is a reminder of his days as a Broward College student when he was making,  if only, mental note of becoming governor. Now that idea doesn’t seem so far-fetched.

Said Flippen, who plans to run for reelection next year, “One never knows.”

Academically focused high school students determined to get a head start on college coursework while, studying toward their diploma are eligible for a dual enrollment program at Broward College. Learn how to save time, money, and earn college credits.


Minority male initiative

Minority Male Initiative Uncorks Potential in Broward College Student

Before he boarded the bus each morning for Broward College, Woodllyson Acluche stood before a mirror to get himself ready for class. Hidden beneath his bushy beard and unruly hair was ambition that he is fortunate his instructors could see.

“I was a scary-looking individual,” said Acluche. “It took someone from the outside to see the potential that I had to invest their time and ensure that I become a success.”

That someone was professor Kaya Hamer-Small, who encouraged Acluche one day after class to join the Minority Male Initiative, a Broward College strategy that provides underserved students with the support they need to complete their college goals. When he accepted the invitation, Acluche had no idea of the resources including mentorships, networking and leadership and like-skills training that were available to enhance his Broward College experience.

How was he to know? After all, Acluche didn’t find out about opportunities to attend Broward College until he was 21 years old. Up until then, he had little time for education. He was working mornings as a salesperson at Macy’s. His afternoons were spent grilling chicken at Pollo Tropical and the evenings involved stocking shelves at Target. Long on hard work and determination, Acluche always fell short on guidance and direction.

‘Work or Leave the House’

Woodllyson AclucheBorn in the United States, Acluche moved to Haiti when he was 10 years old to live with his aunt, and younger sister and brother. He returned to Florida seven years later to move in with his father.

“Everyone can be a father, but not everyone can be a dad,” said Acluche. “That mental and moral support, that love and compassion that you need, I didn’t have. It was either you work or leave the house.”

Acluche chose work, which meant dropping out of Miramar High School before he could complete the 11th grade. After juggling three jobs and at the recommendation of his pastor, he joined Miami Job Corps, completed his GED and pursued a trade. Those plans took an about face when an advisor convinced Acluche that a degree would be better suited to his career aspirations. He then enrolled in the Criminal Justice program and earned his associate degree in May.

Change in Attitude

Now, he looks back at the circumstances that had shaped his life and credits the peer and faculty mentors he encountered in the Minority Male Initiative and the interpersonal skills he developed for his attitude adjustment.

“I realized I didn’t have to go through college alone,” said Acluche, who is studying toward a bachelor’s degree in Supervision and Management at Broward College. “It was a tremendous help to know I had a tangible place to lean on. I made lifelong friends. And I learned about all resources at Broward College that are helping me to become the man I never thought I could be.”

That man, now 26 and growing, has become a mentor himself, doubling as a peer academic leader with the Minority Male Initiative. Acluche spreads a message of hope to local high school and middle school students who, like him, want to make their mark, but don’t know where to turn.

“Yes, you are handsome,” Acluche now reminds himself confidently in front of the mirror each morning before hopping in his car to Broward College. “And you are going to conquer this.”

The Minority Male Initiative is making a difference in the lives of Broward College Students who face unique obstacles toward completing academic and career goals. See what faculty mentors and peer support can mean for you.