Student Insights from MOCHA and WOCHA
As the Fall semester comes to a close, we wanted to catch up with our Men of Color, Honor and Ambition (MOCHA) and Women of Color, Honor and Ambition (WOCHA) students on their first semester experience. They’ve had a busy semester with their academics in addition to participating in an intensive leadership development program.
“My experience with WOCHA has been wonderful since the beginning. Sharing my vision with WOCHA members, was a great way to get to know each other and become closer,” said Kristina McKinnie, a second-year student, earning a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science and Healthcare Administration at RIT’s School of Individualized Studies and graduate from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Laboratory Science Technology. “I’ve learned through WOCHA that I enjoy working with others, in a team” she shared enthusiastically.
“We have a brotherhood, where we discover ourselves, we’re among like-minded individuals and there is no other place like it.” said Brian Zarzuela, a third-year student, in Computer Engineering Technology in the College of Applied Science and Technology. “As MOCHA men, we challenge and motivate each other to succeed.”
In both the MOCHA and WOCHA programs, students attended customized workshops on the importance of personal financial planning to make informed decisions about their finances and how it affects them throughout their lives.
“It’s important to get your credit checked and how to figure out if a credit card is right for you. I also learned I need to save money, make sure I’m budgeting, and especially to make good choices in college and even after college,” Kristina shared. MOCHA and WOCHA students were educated about financial tools and resources that can help them as they start their careers, like retirement planning with 401K or 403B, investment options, etc.
“We all had the opportunity to ask questions on saving accounts, your credit and different investments. It was a fun discussion, so much so that we were looking to having another segment for next semester,” Brian added.
They also had the opportunity to take an Interpersonal Communication workshop with Dr. Keith Jenkins, Vice President & Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion at RIT. Often students need guidance as to how they can positively utilize their verbal and non-verbal communication skills to create an engaging environment, as they have interviews, build consensus in groups and establish meaningfully conversations.
“It helped me understand how I present myself. To be aware of my body language. He shared ways I can make people feel more comfortable and share my ideas,” Kristina said. “I feel better about presenting on my own, preparing for presentations and feeling more confident!” Kristina added.
“It helped me see how I interact with people and how we explain who we are. It was so impactful that next semester, I’ll be taking an interpersonal communication class and have decided on an immersion in Communication,” said Brian enthusiastically.
MOCHA men attended a 3-day Dale Carnegie workshop where they focused on building self-confidence, establishing solid relationships, improving their networking skills, establishing rapport and developing effective communication and presentation skills. Next semester, WOCHA participants will be enrolled in their Dale Carnegie experience. “I have a passion for service and saw myself as a team player, but after the Dale Carnegie workshop, I definitely improved how I communicate, present myself with confidence and people have noticed a strong change in me,” said Brian.
One vital aspect of both programs is their access to an extensive network of professionals that are instrumental in mentoring the students throughout their development program. “My mentor has helped me to be open, express myself and to communicate more with people. I have a quiet and shy personality and she’s helped me speak-up and to make more connections. It will definitely help me in the future, with work and different co-ops,” Kristina added with gratitude.