Leaders are made, not born and Ferris provides several opportunities for students to be involved and lead by example.
Black History Month honors black leaders in the United States for their achievements in public service, military, business, sports and social life. It’s also a reminder to recognize students who are leaders at Ferris.
Ferris journalism and technical communication junior Tia-Jane Oakes thinks Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and February shouldn’t be the only time black students and black leadership is recognized on campus.
“People think about Black History Month as the only time you can stand up and do things about racism or helping in the black community,” said Oakes. “If you’re serious about that, and you put your all into it, don’t wait for February. If you feel there’s injustice or issues you feel strongly about, this shouldn’t be the only time you say something about it.”
Ferris business administration junior Taylor Williamson said she wants to own a gym and recreation center in her hometown of Detroit. She wants to combine an entrepreneurial spirit with social action to help kids find some direction while they play and learn.
“I also want to make sure students know about college,” said Williamson. “When they’re in my gym, I want them to grow up with it. So when they graduate high school, they’ll know about college. I didn’t know much about college—I didn’t have any friends here, I didn’t know anyone on campus and I didn’t know much about Ferris. I just showed up.”
Williamson has been involved with Teaching Others While Establishing Real Success (TOWERS), where she helps students new to Ferris establish good habits for success. She is also the senior vice president of the co-ed business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi.
Setting goals, working toward them and getting in positions to accomplish those goals has been a large part of the journey for Ferris criminal justice and communications senior Jazmine Goode.
“My freshman year was the worst year for me, academically,” said Goode. “I didn’t do too badly, but it wasn’t what I was used to, especially after doing so well in high school. So I sat down and made some goals: I wanted to raise my GPA, I wanted to be the president of an organization on campus, I wanted to run for homecoming queen, I wanted to become a mentor and I wanted to find a job at Ferris.”
Goode said she has a list somewhere with her goals written and hopes to find it when she graduates this spring. She’ll be able to check off what she’s accomplished during her time at Ferris, including her goals of raising her GPA, getting a job in the Office of Multicultural Student Services (OMSS), being the president of Young Beautiful Black Women (YBBW) and being elected homecoming queen in 2015.
Learning to be a mentor to those who are coming up and paying it forward are lessons Ferris criminal justice junior Brian Chandler has learned during his time at Ferris State. As president of Black Leaders Aspiring for Critical Knowledge (BLACK), Chandler has learned what it means to pay it forward not only for the organization and newer students, but also for his home community in Grand Rapids.
“In the sense of being an African American male, not just on this campus but out there in the world in general, it’s important to realize the importance of knowing yourself and the things you need to do,” said Chandler. “Not just for yourself, but for your family and your community.”