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Robertson School adviser builds mentoring network with new "E.M.-Power" course

Apr 30, 2020

Posted in: News

By Mario Sequeira Quesada, Communications Intern

Roy F. Roach III
Robertson School academic adviser Roy Roach III created the new special topics course "E.M.-Power."

“Since the very first day of class with Mr. Roach, I have been nothing short of amazed and inspired, and I honestly say I’ve grown as a student,” said Madison Lehman, a junior pursuing a degree in business communication through interdisciplinary studies at VCU.

Lehman just completed the special topics course "E.M.-Power," one of the latest additions to the course offerings at the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. She wasn’t sure what it was when she first registered or that it would impact her the way it has.

Robertson School academic adviser Roy Roach III created a course that students said is different from other classes they have taken. E.M.-Power is focused on an exploration of mentorship through personal and professional development in mass communications.

Roach, who received VCU's Black History in the Making Award this spring, guides his students to examine models for identity development. He said the goal is for students to become confident and discerning individuals and values-informed leaders. Students also learn how to create and strengthen portfolios, and use self-authorship as a tool toward success in academia and in life.

Roach’s objective is to give students an opportunity to reflect on who they are and what role they want to have in any society, system or organization.

“That has always been my focus, where, before we even introduce mentorship, let's first get a greater confidence of who you are as an individual," said Roach.

The concept of mentorship is important to Roach. He plans to incorporate the students who have taken the class as mentors in future classes. This will allow students to understand the concepts of confidence and leadership and later put them into practice, he said.

Roach called his approach reverse-engineering. Students participate in exercises during the semester that allow them to reflect on different aspects of their lives. At the end of the semester, Roach invites students to think about their future, their hopes, how they want to be remembered.

This class is available for every student, but Roach said it can be a particularly positive experience for African American and Hispanic students, because “students of color tend to perform at disproportionate levels of their peers.” 

“There is no greater way to assist students in their success than to help them grow the skills that they need, and give that additional attention, catered to them,” Roach said. “So when they graduate, they will have a portfolio of skills, knowledge and expertise that gives them the skills needed to be successful.”

Both Lehman and junior sociology student Christopher Lomax said "E.M.-Power" is different than other classes they have taken in the past because it is based on the students’ own discussions and ideas. Lomax said he enjoys that the class discussions don’t end when the clock runs out, but they carry on to the next session with more engaging activities.

“You’re never coming to class knowing what is going to happen, so it is more of an excitement, rather than the class being repetitive,” Lomax said. “The class helped me improve as a person and have a different outlook on my other classes, but also helped me to realize I truly am in charge of my own future and I can start preparing for it now.”

Lehman is the youngest of the students in the course and she said her eyes have been opened through engaging in discussions with older students. She said Roach does an amazing job of teaching students the value of exploring themselves and discovering the traits they may have not engaged with before.

Lehman thinks everybody should take this course, “especially those in need of direction.” 

“Before taking this class I was so stressed on getting on track and finding my true purpose, and because of this class, I now understand it can be whatever I choose it to be,” she said. "I’m thankful that I was able to take this class and now have the relationships that I do.”

The Robertson School is planning to offer the "E.M.-Power" class again in the 2021 Spring Semester.