Unsung Hero recipient Vince Cobb Sr. promotes success for black students


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When Vincent Cobb had the chance to review the GPAs of the 21 black students who graduated from his class of about 250 students at Ohio high school, he was shocked to see that only he and one other black student were among the 10. % best performers. while the other 19 black students, mostly men, were at the bottom of the list.

“How is that possible? And I was like, this is not right. Because I knew the guys, they were smart,” said Cobb, a media technology analyst and engineer at Syracuse University and 2022 winner of the university’s Unsung Hero Award.

“In most of these guys, when they got into high school, they graduated and never went to college because that was never in the cards for them,” Cobb said. “And I was like, I have to do something about this because it’s wrong. And that was my mission.

Cobb’s upbringing, faith and community nature have led him to form special bonds – bonds that go beyond his job title at SU – with those he meets, especially black students and underserved.

The Unsung Hero Award is an honor given to SU staff, students, and community members who exemplify the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of bringing hope and healing to the world , but who have not received widespread recognition for their contributions.

He joined SU in 1989 as an engineer under the university’s information technology services, and Cobb then began working directly with the Newhouse School of Public Communications in 2007 after being hired by the one of his mentors, Dean Lorraine Branham. He oversees the “CAGE”, which provides multimedia material to Newhouse students.

Dona Hayes, associate professor and acting associate dean for special projects at Newhouse, said she’s worked with Cobb for decades. She described how Cobb has been integral to the evolution of Newhouse and “will move mountains” for faculty and students.

“His knowledge is vast and his fingerprints are in many, many places in Newhouse, both current and past,” Hayes said. “Maybe that’s why he’s not being sung, because his fingerprints are there, and I’m not sure everyone realizes how many fingerprints there are.”

Not only does Cobb use his media technology skills to help students become media storytellers, but he also extends those skills and his life experiences by connecting with the community and motivating students of color to succeed.

“I didn’t do anything for a price. I would if no one knew,” Cobb said. “I will continue to fight and push for minorities and people who I believe are marginalized and have great opportunities to be great things in life, but people have never (told) them or never opened them up to those opportunities,” he said.

Cobb said he has always been an advocate for helping underserved and struggling students in certain areas of math and science. He explained that both of his parents did not complete high school and therefore he had to work harder to understand the subject himself, as his parents did not have the knowledge in subjects like math and science. writing to help him. Since his teachers had pushed him to succeed, he decided to push other students back, especially students of color.

Brianna Downing, vice president of content strategy at Conceptual Geniuses — a woman-owned, minority-owned company — said Cobb was a father figure to her as a work study supervisor while she was a student at SU about 20 years ago.

She said there weren’t many black students at Newhouse while she was there and seeing someone as generous as Cobb inspired her.

Eric Derachio Jackson Jr., an SU graduate and Cobb’s mentee, worked at CAGE, where Cobb was not only his boss but also represented someone like him in the production industry, he said. . After graduating from SU, Jackson started his own media company, Black Cub Productions.

“As an African-American man, seeing him come forward in the community inspired me to want to do similar things,” Jackson said. “Having him out in the community and doing this work and bringing in students like me to help out and contribute is just awesome.”

Cobb hosted events to encourage black students to become entrepreneurs and teach students how to market their programs with technology, and Jackson witnessed and was involved in Cobb’s community work with nonprofit organizations, both locally and nationally.

While his father’s work ethic inspired him to make a bigger impact in college, and his mother’s passing motivated him to get involved with the Genesis Health Project Network, an advocacy project health and wellness for African American families. Cobb said accessibility, from public facilities to education, is critically important to success.

Cobb immediately adapted to the Syracuse community, he said, but realized there was a lot of negativity toward people of color. He has made it his mission to uphold justice and fairness. He sits on the League’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility Committee and has been a voice to voice concerns on behalf of parents who could not do so successfully for their children in schools across the city ​​of Syracuse through the Youth Advocacy Mentorship Program.

Cobb also said he provided academic support and worked with the parents of children he coached in basketball as well as at his church, the Greater Evangelical Church of God in Christ.


Kenneth W. Reed, the church pastor, has known Cobb for more than 30 years and described how Cobb’s roles as media and technology executive and deacon exemplified his character.

“One of the definitions of love is that it works and withdraws, which means it doesn’t show off,” Reed said. “He doesn’t go out there. It just does what it does and doesn’t have to make a fuss about it. And it’s Vince.

Richard Breyer, a teacher at Newhouse’s television, radio and film program who has also worked with Cobb for decades, noted Cobb’s ability to recognize community needs and implement change to ensure that they work. Breyer mentioned Cobb’s work with The SENSES Project, which seeks to make musical creation accessible to marginalized students.

“I noticed the way the (students) looked at Vince,” Breyer said. “I see the way they look at it with respect and gratitude.”

Cobb said the award partly covers how he stood up for the injustices presented to both his growth as a black employee at the university and the growth of students of color at a predominantly white institution like SU . He said he encourages the community to connect with each other and tackle issues within the university and the city.

“If you are a member of the community trying to make an impact, reach out to someone who is in a situation where you can help them with words, spending time with them, doing a kind act for that person, telling them that you have great faith in them or God bless you and you’ve lived a wonderful life,” Cobb said. “Just be positive. It goes a long way, and people see themselves in the way the people see you.

Contact Lily: [email protected] | @LilliAnnella


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