Entrepreneur, Advocate and all around an upstanding young gentleman. Mawukle Yebuah graduated from the University of Denver in 2016 with a business already in motion, with it’s feet on the ground and starting to run. Flare and Square. This isn’t his only big accomplishment though, during his time in the Puksta Scholar Program Mawukle worked with the Black Male Initiative Summit and the Crowley Foundation to help encourage and promote higher education access for young black men. This year he also graduated with his Masters in Marketing from DU – Only to marry the love of his life the very next day!!!
Mawukle was born in Accra, the capital of Ghana. His father was a PhD candidate and was sponsored by professors from DU to come to the US when he was only 6 years old. As a senior at South High School, he received the news that he was accepted into the Puksta Scholar Program at DU.
What was your project, and how did you implement it?
“It was access to higher education for young black males. It was implemented through a community partnership with several organizations mainly the Black Male Initiative Summit, as well as the Crowley Foundation, which is non-profit, started by a black couple.
So, through that I just began my first year really doing research, getting to know the organizations, getting to know what they do, and really how I could help them. And then my second year with the Black Summit, I helped them implement a scholar’s program and then that was really where my project really took off was with our Scholar’s Program. And then with the Crowley Foundation, I helped them grow their Boys to Men workshop. With that workshop, they get young professionals and college students and do workshops with the young black men that they work with. So that was a really cool opportunity for our troop. The Crowley Foundation is specifically high school. But the Black Summit, we’ll do seventh to tenth grade, so kinda the middle school and high school grades.”
Do you see a difference in the age group you target?
“Yes, there’s a huge difference.
I think with the younger folks, it’s really more, when we talk about black male identity with the younger boys in middle school, it’s really just kind of on the basis of them understanding that society does have this negative view of you. But it’s not what you have to be accustomed to. Whereas, with the older black males in high school, with them it’s they’ve kind of already experienced some things, and so for them it’s really analyzing…
Well how do you move past this? And how to use it for a better, for a positive outlook?
And also how do you use it to help you get to college?
So for them, we really focus on kind of their future after school, whereas with the middle school boys, we really want to help them set a positive foundation so they can be successful in high school. To understand that it happens in all parts of society, so which is something that you’re going to have to handle, and move through, essentially.”
Were these programs in the same school districts?
“Yeah, at first, it was mostly Denver Public Schools, but last year we were able to expand to and formed a partnership with Cherry Creek School District and so that was a huge point for our program.
And with that, we ended up getting over 200 young black men to come to the Black Male Initiative Summit, which was our biggest conference yet to date. So now, we’re trying to build on that and include Aurora Public School District as well.”
Do you stay involved with your project?
“Yeah, I stepped down as the co-chair, but I’m still on the planning committee, the committee for the scholar’s program, as well as our marketing. The beauty of it was that they allowed it to be student led while I was there, and they saw how it really changed how I was interacting, as well as the professional experience I was getting.
I was telling them that we could really get that same opportunity to another black male after me. We now have a sophomore who’s now leads the planning committee. So he kind of took over my spot and with the hopes that by senior year, he’ll get to be the chair of the program as well.
I tell him, him and I are going to head to Scholar’s Program and so he can really take on the same role I had. He’s there to kind of run a minor part of it for at least a few years. So now I’m working with him kind of helping him to go along until he’s ready to take on the full program.”
How has being a Puksta Scholar impacted your life?
“Huge, I mean, I always tell people that one, without I wouldn’t have gone to DU. I wouldn’t have been as successful at DU. I wouldn’t have learned as much as I did, it really facilitated my out of class learning, which to this day has been more valuable than what I’ve learned in class. Which, not to discount what I’ve learned in class, but just being part of the Puksta community and providing me with skills to show how to really look at problems.
To look at them from a point of an organizational level and not just kind of a activist awareness level that makes noise. Connected me with great folks, it has been so amazing. It just showed me showed me that there were good people in the world, that really do kind and good work and that alone feeds my passion.
I think sometimes when you’re in the work, you get caught up and just, it can drain you out. But seeing other people still keeping the energy going, it’s pushed me to find, and to bring that passion and energy even to our corporate environment and even to my classroom.
It’s meant so much to me, and even helped me with the business too, just teaching me how to connect with what I was doing in the community with our business. So yeah, it’s awesome.”
What advice would you have to anybody coming into the program, or thinking about coming into the program?
“That’s a good question. I kind of talked to James (second year scholar at DU) about this, and I think the first thing I told him was, you need to realize the skill set you have, and realize the amazing person you are, because I think when you first start, it’s very overwhelming and you’re like, man, all these people are doing these amazing things, what am I gonna do?
And I told him, develop that confidence in yourself first because you realize there’s a reason why you’re here. And the fact that you got into this program speaks the world of what you can do and what you will do. So I told him, enjoy that fact now, and then realize that just take it one day at a time.
Really seek to do the good work, and not for any reasons, just do it because of your passions, and that’s gonna help you through it. And so, at the end of the four years, you’ll look back and you’ll realize that while you were doing your project, you’ll look back and realize that the impact was greater than what you’ve even imagined.”
Read more about Mawukle and his entrepreneurial spirit with his business Flare and Square