Excellence is the foundation of all organizations housed by Kean University. But one organization in particular embodies excellence and instills that mindset into all of its members.
That organization is Kean University's Men of Excellence.
Founded during the summer of 2015 by Denzel Ahazie, Men of Excellence's mission is to empower, motivate and uplift men within the Kean University student body.
Joshua Watkins, senior business management major and President of Men of Excellence, explains that the organization's mission is not just a credo, but rather a mentality shared by all of its members.
"We are about bringing men from all races and ethnicities, just diversity in general, and bringing those guys together and building them as leaders," said Watkins.
The organization currently has approximately 25 to 30 members. According to Edward Adams, senior criminal justice major and member of Men of Excellence, all members are taught a variety of ways to enhance the perception others may have of them.
"One of the most important things that we preach is the way [members] are perceived...the way that you act, the way you communicate, simple gestures like looking someone in the eyes when you're speaking," said Adams. "We hope that they gain a better self image of themselves. Also, we hope that they gain a development of professionalism."
The purpose of emphasizing perception is so members can learn or get better at communicating with others, especially when networking. Both Watkins and Adams believe that this will create more opportunities for members to make a difference in society, by exceeding the expectations others may have of them.
Adams also stresses that all members give back to the community through service, regardless if one is an underclassman or upperclassman.
"Just because you make it to a certain level, always make sure that you give back," said Adams. "Personally I can say I pay for school and I do this and that, but I'm not here today just because of me. I'm here today because of hundreds of people that have touched my shoulder here and touched my shoulder there and helped me along the way."
"Excellence is not just about succeeding in whatever you want to do. It's about giving back to others that really need it," said Watkins, adding to the sentiments shared by Adams. "It's about paying your dues."
In addition to using social media, members of Men of Excellence take time to promote the organization and its initiatives on campus through face to face interactions with fellow Kean University students.
"We tell [students] a little about the organization. We've held informational general body meetings as well where we kind of talk in an open dialogue type of environment, where we allow people to express what they want from the organization and also what we would want from them as members of the organization," said Adams.
One event in particular that has spread awareness of Men of Excellence is Motivational Mondays, which have included guests speakers from different backgrounds. These professional speakers help motivate students change their communities for the better. Motivational Mondays are held each week from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in the Cougar's Den.
In addition to Motivational Mondays, Men of Excellence also holds job fairs, where students can learn more about the interview process while opening doors for potential internships down the road.
Both Watkins and Adams credit the organization's founder for sharing his vision and getting them involved with Men of Excellence.
"[Ahazie] was talking to me about what he wanted to do with the organization, and that he saw a great future for us if we really gave into giving back to the community, helping students strive to be who they want to be, and I really gravitated towards that," said Watkins.
"When [Ahazie] came to me and I went to Motivational Monday, and I saw how the students were impacted on such an emotional level from what this organization was doing, I wanted to do that," said Adams. "I wanted to put my hand in that pot and help stir those emotions and help students get motivated and change peoples lives."
Those are the types of leadership skills that members can expect to gain as a part of Men of Excellence. Members can also expect opportunities for future professional advancement as well as "a lifetime brotherhood."
Men of Excellence is open to adding new members year-round, and interested students are encouraged to ask questions in person or through email or social media.
"If they're on Instagram, they could just [direct message] us and we'll get it directly," said Adams. "Also email; I check my email hourly. My email is email@example.com."
Watkins also encourages interested students to approach Men of Excellence members for more information, as they are all very personable. Current members have already left a legacy of uplifting men in the Kean community, and the organization hopes this tradition continues and is carried out by future members.
"I would love to come back to this school four years from now and come to a Motivational Monday and see how far it has come," said Adams.
"Personally, I want Men of Excellence to be known for building the leaders for tomorrow that will change the world," said Watkins. "Also, I want to see Men of Excellence branch off from Kean University and go into different universities."
Men of Excellence accepts members from all cultures and backgrounds, and makes sure not to exclude or discriminate anyone in the Kean community.
"We don't discriminate, we don't judge you," Watkins states. "Just come as you are, and we'll do our best to help you become the best person you possibly can be."
Adams accurately sums up what it means to be a part of Men of Excellence.
"Excellence doesn't just mean dressing a particular way. It means living up to the way you dress," Adams said. "We like to say you dress for success; we're living up to that mindset. Just because you may not have a three-piece suit on doesn't mean you're not excellent. It's what's inside your mind, the knowledge that you have, that makes you excellent."
There are no deadlines for applying to join Men of Excellence, as the organization looks for new members throughout the year. For more information, visit Cougar Link, attend a Motivational Monday or just spark up a conversation with a current member.
A tradition of excellence awaits for interested students, so sign up and join Men of Excellence in creating a legacy that will last a lifetime.