Inside Kansas City Kansas Community College is a hidden jewel called Fringe Benefits of Education, led by rapper, activist, and mentor Roger Suggs, also known as Vigalantee.
With the help of the college’s administration, Suggs created FBOE in 2007 as a way to engage and connect African-American students to the college, and ultimately their education.
His goal was “to recruit Black students and retain them” said Suggs, “I wanted to give students who looked like me something I wish I had.”
FBOE, with the leadership of Suggs has created an atmosphere that engages students in a non-traditional method of education, “bringing the HBCU to the community college,” said Suggs.
FBOE has been a success at KCKCC for two reasons: its programming and its leader.
A creative leader, Suggs has introduced a variety of programs on campus, including: Operation Retention, Mr. and Mrs. Metoo, and T.R.U.T.H. (The Reason You Try Harder) as motivational platforms for the students. FBOE has also hosted national leaders: including Civil Rights activist Alvin Sykes, economist Boyce Watkins and actor Isaiah Washington.
Beyond programming, Suggs plays the role of motivator and mentor for students, often helping to get them through some of life’s adversities and challenges. Suggs has literally saved students. It’s his passion and a responsibility he doesn’t take lightly.
“The first year I created this program, a student was killed. It’s something I wish I could’ve stopped,” he confessed.
He may have lost that one, but it’s nothing to see him use little more than his words and connection with students to de-escalate situations that have the potential for getting out of control.
Aliyah Shaw KCKCC student senate president and FBOE member said the program works because it meets students where they are. Instead of forcing students to conform to the traditional education model, FBOE caters to who the students are.
Suggs agrees. “Nobody cared about the hood,” he said, “there was a college campus in Kansas City, Kansas, but many students from the northeast had never even been on the campus.”
FBOE has not only been successful at recruiting and retaining those students, but it’s also graduating them. The programs chill factor has also helped the program attract and serve an even more diverse mix of students. FBOE Thursday night meetings are also extremely popular, possibly because they’re known for providing, often cash strapped students, a much-needed meal.
“Every time we go to a meeting, he asks us to state our goals, which makes our dreams more tangible,” said Shaw.
“I see great potential in these students,” he said, “all I want is to see multiple success stories when they are done with FBOE and graduate college.”