Student mentorship and inclusion is a top priority for sport management professor Dr. John Singer. His belief is that outreach in mentoring, specifically in the African American community, can help elevate success for students in and out of the classroom.
Dr. Singer’s research focuses on the intersections of race in education and diversity and social justice in sports. In one of his classes, Diversity in Sports Organizations, he has given his students a platform to have open dialogue about various things taking place in their lives.
“A lot of my mentoring is about having the conversation of what it means to be black navigating through these spaces (i.e., historically white institutions of higher education) — along with tackling social issues in general,” Dr. Singer said. “I also provide students with advice in other ways including resume building, and networking skills.”
Such skills assist students who want to break into the sports industry but may not know where to begin.
“It’s important to network because we have disciplines in HLKN that people are interested in that are important to society and reflect the power of sports as a social entity,” he explained. “Diversity becomes important because our fields of discipline have something to say about the broader society and people’s health and livelihood.”
Though his students come from different backgrounds, Dr. Singer remains adamant about the way that he approaches the needs of those that he mentors.
“If you have knowledge or something to offer the world, why would you hide that light when it can benefit communities?” Dr. Singer said. “Mentorship could mean the difference between life and death to some people. If you have the right person say the right things at the right time, it could make all the difference.”
Dr. Singer’s mentorship has stretched into different areas across his career including previous work with the Diversity and Climate Committee in the Department of Health and Kinesiology, where he worked with other faculty members to incorporate a more inclusive environment. He contests that the sports world should reflect those involved within the health community.
“There are certain fields that have always lacked representation and have historically marginalized racial minorities,” Dr. Singer said. “It can hinder those who don’t see people having success in those areas. However the numbers at A&M are improving.”
In recent years, the Department of Health and Kinesiology have furthered its recruiting efforts in order to accommodate to the amount of growing disciplines. The department continues to focus its efforts not only on top 10 percent incoming freshmen, but also on recruiting more minority, first generation, and first time in college (FTIC) students. Due to this focus, the department has been able to reach out to more underrepresented students and create a more inclusive environment. Last year alone, the diversity within the department rose from 19 percent to 36 percent.
“Health and Kinesiology is the largest departments on campus,” Dr. Singer said. “It would be counterproductive to not focus on diversity and inclusion when you have so many people who have a common interest in the concept of sport, health, and physical activity.”
Through the department, Dr. Singer wants to empower his students to reach their full potential.
“I strive to be a real model, not just a role model,” he said. “If I can produce fruit that blossoms that impacts others, that’s the best kind of work.”