From EMU graduate student to interim coordinator for DCI

Through a unanimous decision, Gregory Thomas, Eastern Michigan University student academic adviser and cofounder of the Brotherhood Scholars program, received the interim position as program coordinator of the Center of Multicultural Affairs for Diversity and Community Involvement.

Detroit native, Gregory Thomas arrived at Eastern Michigan University in 2013 to obtain his Masters Degree. In 2015 two weeks prior to graduation he accepted a full time offer from EMU for a academic advising position in the University Advising and Career Development Center, the same office in which he completed his graduate assistant-ship.

Since arriving at EMU Thomas cofounded The Brotherhood Scholars program, a cohort driven to increase the retention and graduation rates within African American male students through personal and professional development. The cohort began with 10 students and has grown to 90 over the past three years.

“Gregory Thomas put himself in our shoes,” said Donovan Wilkerson, Brotherhood Scholars student. “When I was struggling throughout my entire first semester he made the effort to meet with me personally and let me know I could do this college thing.”

Wilkerson said Thomas’s ability to relate to him and his peers set him apart as a mentor.

“Greg set the example. He set the standard. Greg let us in on everything he has been through and everything he has achieved, so if he wouldn’t fail then we couldn’t fail either,” said Wilkerson. “As a adviser he made us believe that despite what you come from or what resources you have you can overcome them and be anything you put your mind to.”

In addition to his role as primary academic adviser for the Brotherhood Scholars program, and his position as student academic adviser, he has also spent time working as a member of the Martin Luther King Day celebration committee. On the committee is where he received the interim position as coordinator.

“The transition was a little rocky because we were right in the midst of everything; the Martin Luther King Day Celebration, Black History Month, Multicultural Graduation being around the corner, and along with my advising work already, I was juggling both jobs,” said Thomas.

Becoming coordinator allows him to continue pursuing his goal of, “meeting students where they are,” which means relating to students on a person to person level, so Thomas was honored to receive the coordinator position with Multicultural Affairs.

“Coming out of high school I wasn’t prepared for college, so I accepted that reality. I knew I needed to start small then gradually get up there,” said Thomas. He began at Henry Ford Community College, and now has four college degrees. He began in automotive technology and shifted to social work because he couldn’t see himself working in that field for the rest of his life.

It was at Madonna university when he began receiving support from Trio student support services and became a peer student support mentor that he met a mentor of his own that helped him shift his career path for the final time to higher education.

“Ever since I started working in Trio as a student support mentor I saw myself working in education,” said Thomas. “I did some research and I came across EMU’s academic affairs program. That’s why I came here to pursue my Master’s Program. It was the best decision I ever made, and I feel like my life has come full circle.”

The leading motivation in his life is his spirituality, which he admits is an area he is still growing in because he hopes to be the best role model he can to others, especially young black male men because he comes from a middle class one parent household, and has been through other circumstances where he can place himself in their shoes.

“I put all these different components in a ball to give me the confidence I need to share my light with others," said Thomas. “Every time I step out the front door life is going to test me because I’m black, and because I am a male. I look like the negative stigma the media has classified us to be, but everyday I work to show that I’m much bigger than that."

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