When Chad Clay first came to Claflin University, he knew one day he would be at the head of the class thanks to his first African-American male teacher back in the 7th grade.

Chad said, “When we were having issues he would always take us to the side and talk to us like he was our father.”

Meanwhile, junior Jonathan Durant’s passion to become a teacher came from not having any teachers that looked like him, except one in Physical Education.

Durant said, “I’m excited to have my own students to mold their minds and hopefully I am good at doing that.”

Both men are getting closer to their goal thanks to the “Call Me Mister program.” Participants receive $5,000 a year, a book stipend, and educational support.

Durant said, “They help keep me updated on things that are going on like internships. It’s a really good opportunity.”

Most of all, Clay feels confident they can inspire future students to follow in their footsteps.

Clay added, “I would like to be a father figure, so they can learn from me and I want to be there for them.”

Currently, there are 150 “Call Me Mister” participants at 11 colleges across the state and that number is expected to grow when those same men accept their very first teaching jobs.

Once they graduate from Claflin University, Jonathan and Clay want to become elementary school teachers.

For more information, call 1-800-640-2657.

You can also visit the “Call Me Mister” website at http://www.callmemister.clemson.edu/.

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