School: Pennsylvania State University '18
Major: Psychology, Criminology, and African American studies
Career goals: Professor, activist and counselor
BLOC: How are you currently preparing yourself for future career endeavors?
I am preparing myself for future career endeavors by getting huge exposure to many different cultures and traditions. In order to change the world we have to understand the world. If we don’t see the light we have to create the light. I am more of an engaged scholarship student so I have to be hands on with the concepts that I am learning. Everyday I wake up at 7:30am and I read a book. I have my own library because I self-educate myself on top of what I am taught in school. Carter G Woodson said, “ If someone can control what you think, they don’t have to think about what you are going to do.” Those words stick with me everyday I wake up. I understand that college is a controlled education institution and they only teach me to the confines in which they expect me to learn. I understood early in my collegiate experience that they would only teach me to the extent to which they think is the capacity for me to understand. But I deviated from that because I know the only way I will truly educate myself is if I take out the extra time of the day to do extensive reading, research and studies.
BLOC: As a triple major, how do you plan to integrate each of those disciplines in your career?
As a triple major I plan to integrate psychology, criminology and African American studies by being multi-faceted. I never saw myself in life doing one thing. I see myself being a professor, counselor and activist. Having the knowledge college provides me with on top of what I grasp from self-educating myself really works in my favor in trying to change the world. All three of those careers will put me in a position to change the world and spark other people to want to get involved in this liberation. We have to prepare the next generation for a better condition and we cannot allow them to fight the same fight we are fighting today.
BLOC: What does a work-life balance look like for a dedicated student leader like yourself?
I will always be a student first, but I am a student leader. I plan my week out a week an advance so I am always on top of what I have to do. I have a set schedule and I normally have about 12 meetings a week. These meetings are with different staff members, different administration members, President Eric Barron, and with the 6 different organizations I’m in. I also read every day at 7:30am everyday. I realized that every successful person in this world made a sacrifice. I sacrificed a few hours of sleep, because I am so committed to increasing my level of consciousness.
We heard about your recent efforts to support the residents of Flint, MI water crisis. Tell us more about that!
I started the Flint Water Donation Drive for Michigan several weeks ago as the President of the Social Justice Coalition. I saw the hashtag #flintwatercrisis on twitter and was so appalled that it was no way I wasn’t getting involved. I asked my friend to create a flyer for me, and that’s when I spread the flyer on all of the social media sites I have as well as all of the group me groups I am a part of. We received so much water that we had to start collecting monetary funds to get the water to Flint, Michigan. Then, along with 22 students and 2 staff members drove to Flint, Michigan from Penn State. We worked with an organization called Crossing Water. This organization made daily deliveries to undocumented families to help them during the Flint Water Crisis. We were given the addresses and phone numbers to call and we got started. We delivered over 300 cases of water simultaneously talking to families about the condition they were living through. During our time there we also had to wash our bodies with bottles of water and it was an eye-opening experience.
BLOC: What lessons have you learned from social justice organizing?
There are many lessons I’ve learned from social justice organizing:
BLOC: What inspired your vision behind creating The Penn State Treasure?
The reason and justification for generating/distributing this media content is creating an annual research guide for underrepresented students at Penn State University. Students come to Penn State University and are not acquainted with organizations and student organizations they can get involved in. Students are also not adequately informed of the resources on campus. A student organization's website is a comprehensive platform to gain suitable understanding of the student organization and what is being offered. Many minoritized students are not familiar with the resources, organizations, clubs, fraternities and sororities Penn State University has to offer. When I was a freshman I felt alienated from Penn State and I didn’t know where to start when it was time to get involved. When I was having emotional and mental problems, I didn’t know who to go to. When I had financial problems, I didn’t know until my fourth semester that temporary book loans were available.
BLOC: Who's an activist that inspires you in your work?
Dr. Umar Johnson, a Philly native just like myself.
BLOC: What legacy do you hope to leave on your campus?
The legacy I hope to leave at Penn State University is that you can have an impact no matter who you are, what position you hold in your organization, or what challenges you face. When I became one of many leaders at Penn State I didn’t have any positions in any organization I was a general body member. The passion and drive I had to change the world I was appointed the multiple positions in different organizations. I am on 6 executive boards as well as being the President of the Social Justice Coalition. We have to be proactive instead of reactive. I hope to leave the notion that people will speak up about injustices. The students of color unifying will be the catalyst in making Penn State more diverse and inclusive.
BLOC: What's a hashtag that would best describe your personality?
#Consistent - because I’ve been told by the president of my university, board of trustee members, administration members, staff members and students they have never seen someone with so much drive. Everyday they see me either doing an interview for a television station or for a newspaper. I really take advantage of every opportunity in life that I have.
As the BLOC, our mission is to empower black collegians to achieve, connect and engage. We are really focused on enabling students to enact powerful change on their campuses and to bring the activist spirit and ethic into their given industry. How do you maintain your social consciousness / awareness while still staying focused on your studies?
Having passion is one thing but having the passion and knowledge make the distinction. I wake up every day with new initiatives and ideas that I would like to implement at Penn State to create a safe and conducive environment for all. My ears are always glued to what’s going on in the world and because of the activist I am, I am actively involved in different cities and communities. Unity is so important, so I created a coalition comprised of 60 different multicultural organizations at Penn State University. I’ve had several of conversations with Bree Newsome, Deray McKesson, Marc Lamont Hill, and Dick Gregory and they’ve given me so much advice on activism.
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