Highlighting Those Who Are Building a Foundation for Student Diversity at UM
For Jason Perry, the University of Montevallo’s new Minorities Achieving Dreams of Excellence (M.A.D.E.) program holds special meaning.
“M.A.D.E. means family to me. It means having a group of people who can support and encourage you through a major journey in your life,” said Perry, who is taking on his new role as the M.A.D.E. student diversity recruitment and retention coordinator. “Ultimately, M.A.D.E. means our dreams, our goals, our hopes are possible. The program can serve as a foundation for helping students achieve them.”
The purpose of the M.A.D.E. program is to assist first-year minority students in overcoming the social, emotional, academic and professional challenges of college. Perry describes the program as a way of investing in Montevallo’s minority students holistically and creating opportunities to build community among faculty, staff, students, alumni and University partners and offer impactful resources.
But for Perry, this is not his first journey at UM.
Perry attended the University of Montevallo where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in Management and minor in Non-Profit Studies. He described his experience at UM as transformative and attributed his success to the great faculty, staff and friends who instilled confidence in him to take advantage of the resources and opportunities the University had to offer and open himself up to the new experiences.
“When I first came to Montevallo, I was a shy, introverted student and I was hesitant to meet new people or get involved on campus. It helped me tremendously to connect with familiar faces such as Dr. Kristy Lee and Carolyn Jones to help me gain the confidence to step outside of my comfort zone and show what I had to offer as a student and a leader,” he said.
Perry founded Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow (Now F.A.M.), a student group that raises money for the student emergency fund and food pantry through student philanthropy. Because of his efforts, Perry was able to represent UM at the 2017 CASE conference in Ohio with his advisor and won the Student Organization President of the Year and the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.
Perry also worked in the UM Advancement and Alumni Affairs offices and served as a Falcon Scholar at the Developing Alabama Youth program. He believes it was his experiences within this office and in the Falcon Scholar program that gave him the professional tools he needed to be confident in the role he serves today.
Perry went on to earn his master’s in the College of Education and Human Development’s counseling and leadership program. While in graduate school, Perry was selected as an Albert Schweitzer Fellow and partnered with the Birmingham Mayor’s Office Division of Youth Services to mentor young men at Carver High School.
In addition to his role with M.A.D.E., Perry serves as the University’s student diversity recruitment and retention coordinator, chairs the International Student Advisory Committee, serves on several diversity committees and he leads several recruitment and retention initiatives. He also advises the Minority Student Council, Black Student Union, Black Graduate Student Association, International Student Organization and Multicultural Student Organization.
Perry, along with the diversity staff, was happy to welcome 39 new students this fall to the M.A.D.E. program.
With the challenges of COVID-19 and the social injustices facing our nation, Perry remains optimistic about the future of M.A.D.E. and is encouraged by UM’s welcoming environment. “When you come to UM, you are coming to a place where you can feel free to be yourself while having people to help guide you to become the person you want to be,” he said. “We feel you belong at UM, and we are ready to welcome you into M.A.D.E. and watch you flourish into your future.”
For more information on the M.A.D.E. program or to contact Perry, please visit www.montevallo.edu/made.