“Here I could make a name for myself,” said Lamontriale Hale ’01 after arriving in Olivet as a high school senior. Hale was participating in a youth program at Ada S. McKinley Community Services, Inc. that was designed to link students to tutoring and mentoring resources and provide college placement support. The program took students to various colleges for tours and Olivet just happened to be on the list. After a three-hour bus trip from the southside of Chicago, Hale finally arrived. “It was a fall day and I remember pulling into Olivet. It looked so peaceful and tranquil, much different than where I grew up,” said Hale.
Hale was a psychology major and participated in several extracurricular activities. He was a part of the College Choir, Black Student Union, Residence Hall Association and Campus Activities Board, which was responsible for planning movie nights and other activities on campus. Hale and his friends wanted to create a space for men to come together and help support each other through their college experience. They used ideas from a high school program in Battle Creek called Men of Potential to start thinking about how they could change the image of the young male.
“We wanted our group to be open to all men, but we specifically wanted to support men of color and help them realize that no matter where you come from, you don’t have to be what people may perceive you to be. We are all connected through the brotherhood of life, and we should uplift each other and work to have transparent, open and honest dialogue to become stronger,” Hale said. While living in the African American Culture Center, Hale realized that he wanted to experience Greek life, and he wanted to help create a society that would foster multiculturalism in a new way.
Hale and his friends started to develop a plan for creating a new society on campus. “It was a long journey. We had to coordinate with other Greek societies to share our goals and purpose. The Inner Society Council (ISC) wanted to make sure that we weren’t creating something that already existed. We had to find a name, pick our house colors and motto, and create a pledging program. In order to be approved, ISC members had to vote us in unanimously.”
On Feb. 15, 2001, during Hale’s senior year, Mu Omega Pi was officially added to the Greek life roster at Olivet College. “We chose Mu Omega Pi because it represented the first letters of Men of Potential. We wanted to find a way to represent that our founding members came from different places and are now all connected. We looked at the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Bears and came up with orange and blue as our house colors to represent that connection to each other,” Hale said.
Following graduation, Hale moved back to Chicago, but the job market became even more competitive following the events of Sept. 11, 2001. With a drive to succeed and the frustrations of the world on his shoulders, Hale decided to pack his bags and move back to Olivet. Soon after, Hale accepted a position at Starr Commonwealth, a social services organization in Albion, working with at-risk teens. This position would be a launching pad for Hale to travel and develop a robust career in human services.
After Starr Commonwealth, Hale moved to Georgia to accept a position as a youth service worker with the Department of Justice. He worked with youth held in a short-term facility until their court appearance, preparing the youth for the judge’s decision — a transfer to a juvenile facility or a return home. Helping young men, specifically men of color, find a way out of the prison pipeline is one of Hale’s ongoing life goals.
Hale also worked for the Department of Family and Children Services as a foster care specialist while he was living in Georgia. That all changed in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina devastated the southeastern side of the United States. As Georgia was feeling the aftermath of Katrina, Hale returned home to Chicago to be closer to family. Fate landed him a position with Ada S. McKinley Community Services, the same organization that led Hale to Olivet all those years ago.
Today, Hale works for the State of Illinois in the Department of Human Services as a caseworker. Hale’s role is to connect people to affordable care, including food assistance and Medicaid.
“Who knew that my degree from 2001 would take me in so many positive directions?” Hale said. “You can take your one degree and make it work for you no matter what you want to do, but you have to be able to brand yourself. You have to be willing and open to the possibilities.”