CSU student supporting youth through mentoring, TEDxCSU talk

CJ Porter leaning against a white brick facade with a ball cap and t-shirt.
CJ Porter wearing a t-shirt and ball cap from his BotMan clothing line.

CJ Porter has always felt at home on Colorado State University’s campus and within the community, but as a freshman he found an opportunity to help other young adults feel the same. He became part of Campus Connections, a program in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, which was founded in 2009 in response to a community need for additional services for youth involved in the court system. The program has been successfully operating at Colorado State University since 2010, becoming a core service for youth needing additional support and guidance in Northern Colorado.

Proud to be a CSU Ram

Since its launch, Campus Connections has helped over 2,350 youth through the work of almost 3,000 CSU students. For Porter, who is a senior studying Human Development and Family Studies, Campus Connections has enabled him to better understand the many roads people walk in life and how he can best support everyone as they move forward.

During his time working with Campus Connections as a mentor, mentor coach, and the lead mentor coach, Porter says the most impactful part has been hearing the success stories of the mentees. He also says that he’s loved being able to give youth the time to be themselves and do homework, things that they don’t usually get the time for in their daily lives.

“The youth can start out really nervous being here with Campus Connections, but it’s always so great to see them grow into themselves,” said Porter. He hopes to earn his license in marriage and family therapy after completing his undergraduate degree and attending graduate school so that he can help youth and their families work through trauma and family issues.

Two female models stand in front of a mural while wearing BotMan leggings and jackets.

Bot-Man Clothing

On March 9, Porter gave a talk during TEDxCSU about his clothing line, Bot-Man. The Bot-Man line represents the resilience to keep moving forward past adversities in life, in the same way that a robot keeps moving forward. Founded in April 2017, Porter’s hope for the clothing line is to one day bring money back into communities and donate a portion of the profits to charities.

Three BotMan models standing in front of green foliage.

Porter says that growing up seeing the people in his community keep moving forward through many different dilemmas and traumas inspired him to start the independently owned clothing line, which is now based in Denver and Fort Collins. Porter wants to use the clothing line to tell the story of people who were able to keep pushing forward to do great things in life.

Porter is partnering with United Men of Color, The Lambda Beta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. and families forward resource center to a clothing drive to help youth in the Denver area through the end of March. Clothes can be dropped off in the Black and African American Cultural Center’s office in the Lory Student Center.

Porter took over CSU’s student-run Instagram, @proudtobeacsuram, from March 4-10.

Campus Connections is currently recruiting undergraduate students to participate as mentors for youth participants. Find out more about becoming a mentor on the Campus Connections website.

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is a part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.