Men of Education Program Builds Community for Male Students

June 29, 2023

Office of Marketing & Strategic Communications

David Barrera openly admits his motive for joining the new men-only version of freshman seminar EDUC 1300. He was hoping for an easy A.

As a 42-year-old returning to college for a business degree, he was looking for any possible edge as he started his academic career.

Although Barrera ended up with a B, he got much more than he expected from the class, including learning strategies, connections with other students and faculty, and the confidence to continue his education. He also won a $575 scholarship.

The Men of Education course, MOE-EDUC 1300, is a new offering to help first-time male college students build a foundation for academic success. The course aims to give them the tools to achieve their educational goals while creating a supportive network of faculty, mentors and peers to help them navigate college.

SAC began the Men of Education program to help first-time students succeed in college and improve their enrollment and retention rates. The effort began in response to a decline in male enrollment in higher education in the last several years, not only at SAC, but nationwide.

MOE’s first initiative is a special male-only section of EDUC 1300 Learning Framework course, which helps new students to prepare for learning at the college level. The first MOE class took place in the spring semester of 2023 with 25 students.

In addition to developing strategies for studying and testing, Barrera also found that the all-male setting also provided a sense of community and support that was different from his other classes. He noticed that students felt more comfortable expressing themselves and discussing a variety of topics with each other. 

“There’s a type of fraternity that starts to build in there. There’s a freedom that exists because it’s all men,” Barrera said. “It was easier to speak up and not worry about what people will think. I never saw any judgment. I always saw everybody trying to help each other out.”

That’s the goal of the program, said Ali Tray, SAC senior advisor.

“They had the opportunity to connect with other students a little bit more than a regular class just because of how the professor guides the class,” Tray said. “A lot of research shows that the more connected you are to campus, the more you show up.”

Tray was part of the team behind the first MOE class, along with Dean for Student Success Chaye Peña and Professor Casey Lechuga. The three worked together to keep MOE students motivated and supported. If a student wasn’t showing up for class or his grades began slipping, at least one of them would reach out to him.

“We’re on top of students, having conversations with them, finding out what’s happening with them,” Tray said.

As part of MOE, students in the class also learn more about the many resources available on campus to support them with challenges in and out of the classroom.

“A lot of times, students don’t know what’s available to them,” Tray said.

MOE rewards students for completing the course with good grades. Students who do well in the class over summer will be eligible for a group trip to a pro football game.

For Barrera, MOE has been a game-changer.

“I thought there were barriers to how far I could go. MOE taught me how to knock them down,” he said. “You walk away with a different attitude, a better attitude, about what’s possible.”

MOE-EDUC 1300 will be available in the Summer II and Fall sessions. Students can register for MOE-EDUC 1300 by emailing or by meeting with their advisor and requesting CRN 20997.