Winterborne Jones, Fisk junior and president of the University’s chapter of Collegiate 100, spoke with the editors of the Fisk blog about growing student-led campus and community service initiatives.
Q: As an outgrowth of 100 Black Men, Collegiate 100 is focused largely on community and campus service initiatives. How are the members able to devote time to these projects in the midst of coursework and extra-curricular activities?
A: We try to emphasize to our group members that we don’t have to wait until we graduate from college to begin making a difference. We emphasize the attitude that says, ‘I can be of service now.’ In every step forward we have the opportunity and ability to always be available to help somebody else and make a difference in their lives.
Q: You’ve stated that Fisk’s Chapter of the Collegiate 100 is the first among colleges and universities in Tennessee to include young men and women. Tell us more about the factors that led to the organization expanding its membership.
A: Initially, we spent four months surveying our campus and our community. To be successful in our programing, we understand that the model must fit the environment. We decided to mold our organization into an initiative that would best serve our community’s holistic needs and would also draw on the strengths of our campus. To do this, we need young men and women who are committed to serving together to make the difference.
Q: What are some of the recent services initiatives launched by Fisk’s Collegiate 100?
A: As members of Collegiate 100 we work to strengthen our community as well as ourselves. We try to destroy the mentality of “popping in and popping out” and create sustained initiatives where we can realize outcomes that affect positive changes and contribute to our growth. We have an ongoing Adopt-A-Building project for Fisk Memorial Chapel. We work closely with the Andrew Jackson Housing community and one of our activities there is called “Holiday Hero” which provides gifts and activities for children during the major holidays. “Project Bridges” is our weekly tutoring program for Nashville grade school students on Tuesday evenings at Ernest Newman United Methodist Church. In November, we will join with the Collegiate 100 of Meharry Medical College for a community walk. All of our members will be responsible for bringing one mentee from our proximate community along for the event. As we draw closer to the holiday season, we will have our Bel Natal Christmas Gala and toy drive to benefit children in the Andrew Jackson community. In order to be effective, we know that we have to establish relationships and serve often.
Q: How many charter members began Collegiate 100? What is the recruitment method for new members?
A: Sixteen students began the program, and at our recent interest interest meeting, nearly eighty students were present. If there is one characterestic that we are most proud of, it is that every type of Fisk student is represented in our organization. We are trying to be as inclusive as possible to maximize our strengths. This attitude has led to interest in Collegiate 100. In our outreach, our differences help us to understand our environment in order to have long-term success.
Q: What are lessons that Collegiate 100 members at Fisk are helping each other to learn?
A: As Collegiate 100 members, our requisite for membership is largely based on our commitment to service. In being active agents in our success as individuals, we are also preparing for life after Fisk. There are five goals that all of us as members seek to reach. As Fisk graduates and Collegiate 100 members, we want to be well- read, well-traveled, well-spoken, well-dressed, and well-balanced. One of our recent activities involved a book discussion of Fareed Zakaria’s “The Post American World” with President O’Leary. She emphasized that as young adults, we must be prepared for success in the global society. We have to understand and be ready to contribute to the global community.