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USC Sumter introduces 'Call Me MiSTER' scholarship program for men of color

While classrooms are increasingly more diverse, organizers say few men of color are in the profession. It's something they're hoping to change.

SUMTER, S.C. — The University of South Carolina Sumter has announced the addition of the Call Me MiSTER scholarship program at its campus.

The goal of the program, which was developed by Clemson University, is to bring more men of color into the education profession through mentorship, academic and financial support.

Christina Lunsmann, coordinator and instructor of teacher education at USC Sumter, said she hopes it will also help to attract new talent to Sumter's community and create more representation in the classroom.

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"We are so honored to have the Call Me MiSTER program at USC Sumter. We need more men and, specifically, men of color in education. Nationally, over half of students are students of color, while approximately 85% of teachers are white women," Lunsmann said in a statement. "It is vitally important for all children to see people like them in professional roles. Call Me MiSTER helps meet that need because it encourages more exceptional men of color to enter into teacher education."

USC Sumter's Call Me MiSTER program is supported by the Liberty STEAM charter school, which is expected to provide an annual stipend for site coordinator Micah Vaugh and a $5,000 scholarship towards housing for each student.

"I am so excited to gain male teachers in the profession because we need that, especially African American male teachers," Vaugh said. "We want to make sure that we make this a game-changing experience in the education system and make sure that we are equipping these MiSTERs to be the best, top-notch teachers that they can be."

Gwenden Baldwin is currently enrolled.

"The Call Me MiSTER program was actually a blessing in disguise because it brought me back into school to pursue my teaching degree," Baldwin said. "People don't really notice how much these teachers and also male teachers have an effect on young male students, even female students in the classroom... I could have gone down a very bad, dark road but I had a teacher in high school who actually told me I was better than what I was doing."

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USC Sumter's education program offers two degrees, Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education and Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education. 

The degrees are offered in partnership with USC Aiken. Interested students can complete all four years of courses on the Sumter campus.

To learn more about the Call Me MiSTER Program at USC Sumter's campus, contact Dr. Lunsmann, at 803.938.3786 or lunsmann@mailbox.sc.edu.