USC hosts ceremony for youth mentorship program

USC hosted the closing ceremony of the Steve Harvey Mentoring Program for Young Men Sunday morning. The result of a partnership with the United States Army and the Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation, the program hosted 100 boys aged 13-18 from single-parent homes in the Los Angeles area. With the support of their mothers, the U.S. Army, telivision host Steve Harvey and the Harvey Foundation, the boys were recognized for their completion of the program.

One of several programs offered by the Harvey Foundation, the camp was designed to empower young men to become leaders in their communities. For the last three days, the 100 boys have heard messages of discipline and integrity from role models like Brigadier General Sean Gainey and other representatives from the Army, as well as the Omega Phi Psi fraternity which Harvey was a member of at West Virginia University.

Ten of those 100 boys were specifically honored during the ceremony for exemplary leadership skills, and one young man, Cameron Garrison, was even awarded the title of “Future Leader.”

Garrison himself spoke about the impact of the program.

“I was able to associate with other men of color on how to become a man and a man of my word,” Garrison said.

The ceremony — which included an address made by Harvey to the boys and their mothers, musical and spoken word performances by USC undergraduate Celeste Butler and her brother Prestige, and USC graduate student Jay Dent respectively — saw Harvey mixing advice to the audience with jokes, even addressing his recent Miss Universe mishap.

“You’re looking at a man who has been homeless and lived in a car for three years. You’re looking at the man who said the wrong name at the Miss Universe Pageant. How did this dude get here?” Harvey said.

Despite Harvey’s anecdotes, the focus of the ceremony never strayed from the young men in the crowd. He urged them to look at the USC student body as examples of something to strive for.

“You’re on a college campus. You’re at USC. You’re surrounded by people trying to do better for themselves and make something of their life,” Harvey said.

Most importantly, he urged the boys to respect their mothers and work hard to prepare themselves for success.

“The respect you have for your mother is directly tied to your successes,” Harvey said. “It’s better to be prepared, then not have an opportunity than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.”

Command Sergeant Major of Army Recruiting Command Willie Clemmons echoed Harvey afterwards saying,

“If you want to be successful, you have to invest in yourself and no one can take your education away from you,” Clemmons said.

Starting with a campus tour Friday evening, the importance of education was a common theme throughout the program, as well as the value of mentorship, which USC Rossier Professor Darnell Cole highlighted in his keynote address that closed the event.

“Every successful person never achieved that success alone,” Cole said.