The Black College Fund:
|Huston-Tillotson students Keenan Edinbyrd (left) and Cynthia Buenrostros (right) interact with students at Kealing Middle School in East Austin.|
Students inspire young leaders
by Ciona D. Rouse
As students at Huston-Tillotson University develop strong leadership skills, they give back to the community teaching middle-school students at an after-school program in a low-income area of Austin, Texas.
The Aiming to Preserve a People Evoked by
an Aspiration for Leadership and Service (APPEALS) program, initiated four years ago by the university chaplain and staff, is being reinstated this semester after taking a year-long break due to finances.
Jeremy Banks, a senior who serves as the student coordinator for APPEALS, is excited to restart the program he said has such a positive affect on the students at Kealing Middle School.
“You can see the impact on the kids’ lives,” said Banks. “They sometimes come in a little shy and hesitant, but once you earn trust from them, you watch them grow.”
The Rev. Don Brewington, university chaplain, said the program not only helps the middle-school students; it also develops stronger leaders at Huston-Tillotson.
“Most of the students are excited about giving back,” said Brewington, “but I think that they didn’t realize it was impacting themselves, as well.”
Brewington said students participating in the APPEALS program have also become active leaders in student government, among resident assistants and in other campus and community organizations.
Ten to 20 Huston-Tillotson student leaders form the APPEALS team. After a four-day intensive training retreat, these students break into smaller teams to lead the after-school program for 6-8 weeks. The teams rotate during the week, each leading at least one afternoon session.
Huston-Tillotson students play games and create programming for children, helping the students develop leadership skills related to risk-taking, creating vision and transforming self and community.
“APPEALS not only pulls out the talent that’s already there, but it also transforms you into someone who can be a leader. It was a rebirthing for me,” said Banks.
“We are aligning ourselves to the spirit of God so that we can be the leaders that He would have us to be,” Brewington added.
Banks hopes to share the renewed vision for the program with other institutions of higher learning so that APPEALS can serve as a model of leadership development.
“It is a life-changing program, and everybody should be so lucky as to be a part of it,” said Banks.
—Ciona D. Rouse, account executive for the Black College Fund
Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas, is one of 11 United Methodist-related historically black colleges and universities supported by the Black College Fund apportionment. Graduates of these schools become strong instruments of change in the world:
—Doctors and scientists
—Public school educators
Give 100 percent to the Black College Fund. Your giving helps students today become leaders for life.