Anthropology major LaVell Monger has spearheaded a number of initiatives designed to empower and inspire African American high school and college students. (Photos courtesy of LaVell Monger)

Mastering the fine art of leadership can take a lifetime of practice, but for LaVell Monger, president of the Associated Black Collegians, motivating peers and community seems to be an innate gift.

“I can honestly say working with folks comes naturally ­­­­­– it’s just that big brother instinct I have,” said the University of Missouri-St. Louis anthropology senior. “Ever since I was younger, I remember people coming to me for advice, and I try to give everyone my all. ”

The Big XII Council on Black Student Government lauded Monger’s leadership efforts by presenting him with the Outstanding Non Big XII Senior of the Year award and a $1,000 scholarship at the organization’s annual conference Feb. 27. Sweetening the pot, the council also presented ABC with the Outstanding Non Big XII Council of the Year award and a $750 cash prize.

“When I was at the banquet with the other ABC members, and the announcer said my name, I was like ‘whoa.’ Everyone gave me a standing ovation. That was pretty dope,” said Monger. “And then when the judges gave ABC an award too, it was a shock. So we had a clean sweep in our category.”

Ashlee Roberts, assistant director of UMSL Student Life and ABC adviser, considers the Big XII Conference on Black Student Government awards a confirmation of the hard work Monger has put into his year as ABC president.


UMSL’s Associated Black Collegians pursue the enrichment, sociocultural well-being, and academic and professional advancement of black students while creating a welcoming environment for all students to participate in.

“LaVell is learning how to navigate multiple aspects of his life in different forums while maintaining personal authenticity,” said Roberts. “In the light of everything that happened at Mizzou and with the UM System president, he has had the opportunity to learn and show his peers how the ABC organization serves as an important voice for black students on campus.”

Under the guidance of Roberts and Monger, ABC has more than doubled its membership, going from 28 members to more than 80 in the span of one year.

Roberts intends to use this momentum in meeting ABC’s purpose to enrich the sociocultural well-being of black students, nurture academic and professional achievement and create a welcoming environment for all students to participate in.

ABC events coordinator and sophomore nursing student Brandi Fields is convinced that her collegiate career would not be the same without her participation in the organization.

“Being a part of ABC’s executive board has really brought out a lot of confidence that I didn’t know I had,” she said. “It forced me to step outside my comfort zone and learn how to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. In my time here, I’ve gained a support system and life-long friends.”

In this last semester of his presidency, Monger aims to encourage more faith, growth and understanding in African American culture on and off campus.

“The fact that I made it out of a tough environment in St. Louis gives hopes to others. Some of the guys I grew up with even use me as a role model for their little sisters and cousins,” he said. “Even if I don’t have all of the answers, people still trust and believe I’m sincere. That’s one thing that separates me from a lot of leaders. All the titles and all the accolades don’t mean anything without sincerity. I just stay positive and tell people that if I can do it, anybody can.”

Monger will graduate this May, and, inspired by the television show “Bones,” he plans on pursuing a graduate degree in forensic criminology.

The UMSL Experience


Ron Austin

Ron Austin