On Thursday morning, April 24, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. joined Monroe College President Stephen Jerome and dozens of mentors at the college’s fifth annual Male Empowerment Event to help more than three hundred high school students ‘tie’ into manhood.  After delivering an impassioned keynote speech in the college’s Mintz Auditorium on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx, Mr. Diaz individually greeted many of the youngsters and helped them put on specially-designed royal blue and gold (Monroe colors) ties that gave them a more business-like wardrobe and symbolically moved them into manhood.

“What does it mean to be a man?” Mr. Diaz asked in his keynote. “Before all these mentors got to do what they do and before I became the borough president, I was a man, a man to my brother and sister, a man to my wife, and a man to my friends. We may not have the winning lottery numbers for you in life,” he said, “but we know what all the losing numbers are.  What we want is to identify where it is you want to go and define how you are going to get there.  The first step is education.”

Mr. Diaz was reflecting the theme of the day that was established by Mr. Jerome, who emphasized college as a key goal.  The President of Monroe referred to choices he had made as a student as being a key to success.

“If I didn’t make the decision to pursue a college education in spite of some obstacles, I wouldn’t be here speaking to you today,” he said.

After the speeches, the ties were distributed to the students and the mentors who were from all realms of the professional world – judges, businessmen and entrepreneurs, lawyers, and professors – helped them put them on, figuratively and literally, “tying into manhood.”

“The mentors made it clear that if they can make it through, these kids can also be successful and move their lives forward,” said the event’s creator and Monroe Director of Admissions Cecil Wright.