The first degree-granting historically black university in America, once known as the black Princeton, is aiming to harness its millennial alumni in order to generate more activism and create a network of change agents who promote the institution's best interest in the global marketplace.
Launched this fall by Lincoln University's newly elected president of the National Alumni association, Robert Ingram, class of 1976, and Darrell Braxton, the newly elected treasurer, the Young Alumni Council defines itself as a premiere network of young professionals that improve the quality of life for recent graduates, support current students as they navigate towards their degrees and raise scholarship money for those who hope to attend.
I think the idea of a Youth Alumni Council is great. As a millennial myself, I find it's difficult to advance in the professional realm, find proper mentors and join high capacity networks. So the more millennial-led networks we can create, the more resources we can share, and the more flesh we can touch, will ultimately encourage more people to consider attending Lincoln University, because they'll understand the networks that stem from the institution and the value it has in the marketplace -- Philly Roots Fellow Isaiah Thomas, a politically-active millennial who received his Master's degree in Elementary Education from Lincoln University in 2011, and began as an adjunct professor there in 2012
Leading up the grassroots networking and directory building arm of the council, is class of 2009 social butterfly, Dominique Johnson, a high-energy, fast-talking and self-proclaimed "lover of connecting people." The modeling millennial says it's her personal goal to turn the network into net worth through bartering and "sharing opportunities among friends."
Overzealous, some might say, Johnson definitely isn't shy, as she candidly shares with me a story of her leaving a note on a stranger's windshield after noticing a Lincoln University window decal.
"I just want to build up who we are as a people and a school," she says, adding: "I just like being around people."
Initially, Johnson will be responsible for gathering data from entrepreneurial alumni and crowdsourcing opportunities for students, noting that "any graduate with a service to provide to current students -- such as a job or internship -- will be entered into the database and made available by search."
As the Executive Director for Mature Cradle, a nonprofit organization that provides athletic and performing arts programs for children and families in Philadelphia, Thomas, a coach, father and mentor, from the Northwest section of the city, says he has plenty of opportunities for enrolled Lincoln University students, such as internships, community service, soliciting donations, participating in event planning and the ability to serve as a mentor.
The youngest democratic City Council candidate in Philly's history, Thomas has announced plans to campaign again, and says: "being an active member on the Youth Alumni Council will not only allow me to expand my professional network and access volunteers, but give me face-to-face time with more constituents, increasing the probability of me winning a council seat in 2015."
This initiative will become a major asset for students and alumni equally. It will solve the disconnect problem we have and allow the work that we are all trying to do to be accomplished more efficiently through collaboration. There's power in numbers, and besides, who loves you more than your own people; we're all family," -- Johnson, a South Philadelphia native
Before she became the big sister who bleeds orange and blue, Johnson admittedly didn't want to attend Lincoln University because of the perception, she says many of her peers in high school referred to it as 13th grade.
I was so ashamed to be going to Lincoln that I didn't want them to announce what school I was going to at graduation. A lot of my friends were going to West Chester and they looked down on schools like Cheyney and Lincoln; they called them party schools. However, when I got there, I learned so much about myself and those who came before me. I discovered that Thurgood Marshall and Langston Hughes attended the school in the 1920s. I began seeing young black women with weaves down their back trying to look like Beyonce, transformed into proud Nubian queens with their hair locked beautifully. I've witness young black brothers who wore baggy jeans, change their wardrobe to khakis, button-ups and bowties.
Now waving the banner for Lincoln University, Johnson says her college experience instilled in her a "go home or go hard" mentality. She says her Lincoln family is dynamic and taught her what it means to be Dominique Johnson. The pride for her HBCU goes so strong, that Johnson says Lincoln has become her second last name.
If you're a Lincoln University Alumnus and what to get involved in the Youth Alumni Council click here!