With their combined 20 years of public education experience, Rodney and Ron Lewis started an education training company, Lewis Influence, to offer programs to first generation college students and higher education staff in an effort to increase graduation rates. First generation college students face a myriad of challenges in higher education. As a result, colleges and universities are providing additional supports to help these students graduate.
As first generation college students who have succeeded, Rodney and Ron understand the importance of continuous learning. Although, the Lewis brothers both scored 14 on the ACT their senior year in high school, Rodney has earned a doctorate in Education Leadership and Ron is currently pursuing a doctorate in Global Leadership.
Recently, the Lewis brothers conducted a training session to a group of students and administrators at the MO-Kan-NE Conference at Florissant Valley Community College. This conference consisted of students and staff from colleges throughout the Midwest region.
“The MO-Kan-NE Conference was special for us because each time we talk to students we see ourselves in them. We know, if they are able to shift their mindset, gain a new perspective and focus intently on their goals, they will be able to overcome anything,” asserts Ron Lewis.
First Lady Michelle Obama, at an event for first generation students at the White House, shared her struggles at Princeton. “You need to develop the maturity to ask for help when you need it. You cannot do this alone and you aren’t supposed to do it alone.”
An article in the Washington Post stated that nearly “Nearly one-third of students entering two- or four-year colleges in the United States each year are first-generation. These students are also more likely to be minorities, and they are far less likely to graduate”
The New York Times reported “thirty percent of first-generation freshmen drop out at three times the dropout rate of students whose parents graduated from college.In addition, these students also miss out on the advice and support provided by a parent with firsthand experience of higher education. Consequently, first-generation students would benefit from some extra support.”
The Huffington Post’s recent article explained “Everyone involved in education recognizes the benefit of seeing more low-income, first-generation students earn a college degree. When they graduate, more often than not they break the cycle of poverty— improving their own lives, their future families and communities.”
These findings are significant to the Lewis brother’s approach, as their trainings and seminars focus on personal development and mentoring students. “We grew up in north St. Louis City where gangs and violence was all around. Despite academic struggles when we attended community college, there were people who helped us through the difficult moments,” said Dr. Rodney Lewis.
The Lewis brother’s have provided trainings at colleges and universities throughout the Midwest and will be partnering with a number of colleges during the 2016-2017 school year. For more information about Lewis Influence visit www.lewflu.com.