Men’s Engagement Program & Introducing Ambassadors

This past month has been an exciting one for our Men’s Engagement Program. For those of you who don’t already know, The Center for Student Wellness recently launched a brand-new program dedicated to intentionally engaging with men across campus in topics such as gender-based violence prevention and mental health. On September 20th we had our first event, Men and #MeToo, and earlier in the month we welcomed 7 student engagement ambassadors to be a part of this initiative.  

Men and #MeToo was hosted in partnership with the McCluskey Center for Violence Prevention and consisted of a panel discussion with Xris Macias (Director of the DREAM Center), Meligha Garfiled (Director of the Black Cultural Center), Matthew Phister (Assistant Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life), and Matthew Basso (Associate Professor, Gender Studies) as well as a small group discussion with the panelists and participants. This event was an insightful start to the discussion around how men can be active participants in violence prevention while also acknowledging the power and privilege they hold in professional, domestic, and social settings.  

Here’s a testimonial from a participant from the event - “In the small group discussion I was a part of, everyone shared different anecdotes and experiences of how the rigidity of traditional masculinity impacts their lives, both in and outside the classroom. I'm grateful we are creating spaces to have these conversations among students, faculty, and staff." 

Additionally, I would like to formally introduce our 2021-2022 Engagement Ambassadors. These Engagement Ambassadors will serve as leaders in engaging men on campus in conversations surrounding masculinity, gender-based violence prevention (GBVP), and mental health. This is a brand-new program and therefore the ambassadors will play a pivotal role in the development of the program from branding to content, to implementation. We were lucky enough to have an overwhelming interest in this program and invited 7 undergraduate students to be a part of the first cohort of ambassadors.  

We asked each ambassador to share their definition of authentic masculinity, a term coined by Keith Edwards PhD. which is meant to “allow each person who identifies as a man to decide what is really authentic and genuine for him about his masculinity” (Keith Edwards) - something we are striving to promote across campus. You can learn more about our Engagement Ambassadors here. 

Arza Helm (he/him) 

Authentic Masculinity: The nature of being action-driven and forward-moving. 

Jacob Martin (he/him) 

Authentic Masculinity: Being able to do things that make a man feel confident in his own identity without the input of an outside source. 

Kaden Hendrickson (he/him) 

Authentic Masculinity: To me, authentic masculinity is acknowledging and embracing the feminine within yourself. Allowing ourselves to feel, experience, and communication our emotions – happy, sad, or anywhere in between – is an incredible part of the human experience and doesn’t make you less “manly!” 

Patrick Lowry (he/him) 

Authentic Masculinity: To me, authentic masculinity is displayed when male-identified individuals aren’t afraid to display the qualities that make them proud to be who they are. 

Rome Aguilar (he/they) 

Authentic Masculinity: I think “authentic” masculinity is always changing, every day in every person. Being masculine is less about fitting into a set of someone else’s criteria, but about feeling comfortable accepting every part of you as an essential aspect of your own masculinity! 

Sean Kuo (he/him) 

Authentic Masculinity: Authentic masculinity is a subjective, ever-changing, and inclusive idea where any self-identifying male feels comfortable of what being a male is for them and what constitutes feeling included within male community. This includes whatever they may feel masculinity is defined for themselves with character, action, interests, etc. without intruding on another’s identity as a male. 

Titus Larrieu (he/him) 

Authentic Masculinity: Authentic masculinity is the ability to understand how your masculine attributes affect you and the others around you. 


To stay up to date on all things men’s engagement, follow us on social media @uofuwellness!