With a wide, easy smile and a quick laugh, LaVell Monger talks with wonderment about his future. The 23-year junior anthropology major at the University of Missouri–St. Louis wants to be a forensic scientist. His to-do-list also includes enlisting in the Air Force.
Monger admits his life didn’t always have direction. That changed when he connected with the men’s civic organization, the 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis, which works to enhance educational and economic opportunities for African Americans.
“The organization has had a huge impact on my life,” said the Vashon High School graduate. “In 2010, I had a friend die and the group stepped in and guided me through that situation.”
Monger has been a member of the 100 for three years. He’s also involved with the Collegiate 100, an auxiliary organization that extends the group’s mission on college and university campuses across America. It was through his work with the group that he was honored Oct. 4, as Mentee of the Year by the 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis.
The award is given to an individual who displays leadership in many fields including mentoring, education, health and wellness and economic development.
“I was at a loss for words upon hearing I won, “he said. “I feel like I deserved the recognition, but I didn’t expect to get it so soon.”
Monger works at the Monsanto Family YMCA in St. Louis where is the adviser for the Youth in Government program, as well as the Teen Leaders and Junior Leaders. He also works with College Summit, a group that works to increase the college enrollment rates of youth from low-income communities.
Monger is also fully engaged in campus life. He’s past president of the Student Electronic Media Professional Association. Currently, he’s the Student Government Association’s representative for the Associated Black Collegians at UMSL. His campus involvement also includes being a first year experience mentor for New Student Programs and an Orientation Leader at UMSL.
With the Mentee of the Year award he received $1000. The money will go toward school expenses. He also received a plaque.
Monger can’t say enough good things about 100 Black Men and is grateful for the impact it had on him personally and professionally, helping carve out a successful path for his future.
“The professional development piece they offer is huge,” he said. “I never had a reason to wear a suit or to know how to speak in a professional setting, because I never had those opportunities. They were just never there. Once I joined this organization they gave me resources I needed on speaking, etiquette, dressing professionally and to be confident and know your purpose.”
Monger transferred to UMSL from Harris-Stowe State University in the fall of 2013 and said UMSL was definitely the right choice for him.
“The opportunities and resources here are amazing. I really love this university,” he said.