Hill Institute inducts 34 students into leadership program
On March 30, the Hill Leadership Institute held the Orange Coat Ceremony and inducted 34 Virginia State students into Cohort Four of the Hill Fellows class. The ceremony took place at the Petersburg Library.
The Charlie Hill Leadership Institute began in 2016 by Dr. Charlie Hill, Virginia State’s alumnus known for his renowned leadership.
It is the ‘highest student leadership program on campus,’ according to Wynn.
“The goal of the Hill Fellows is to make sure the students who are part of the institute have the skill set and the leadership training to be outstanding leaders on and off campus,” said Anita Wynn, Director of Civic Engagement and Student Leadership. Wynn also serves as the Director for the Charlie Hill Fellow Institute. “We’ve got student leaders that are already leaders, but this is a way to take it to the next level.”
The Orange Coat Ceremony included a keynote address from Dr. Willis Walter, the Dean of VSU’s College of Education, and a Reading Of The Oath by the Founder of the Hill Leadership Institute, Dr. Charlie Hill. Inductees also received a certificate of completion and an orange blazer.
Each Hill Fellow inductee has attended leadership workshops since Sept. on Saturdays to learn about leadership and service.
“[In the leadership workshops] you learn how you can be a beneficial leader to those around you,” said junior mass communications major and Hill Fellow inductee Malik Johnson.
With many of the inductees being student leaders on campus, the mandatory leadership workshops required time management.
“Freeing up each Saturday for me was a little difficult because I am a part of many organizations,” said junior Hill Fellow Inductee Taylor Anderson. “I didn’t mind because, in each session, we learned very valuable information.”
To become a Hill Fellow, applicants must be at least a sophomore with a minimum 3.0 GPA. There is an interview and application process. They must also have 15 hours of community service and be able to attend all leadership workshops.
“They also have to have good moral character,” said Wynn. “They have to be good leaders and role models for other students.”
Some inductees, like Johnson, felt a ‘sense of reward’ after being inducted.
“To me, this is something I never expected would happen upon arrival at VSU,” said Johnson. “If you told me, upon arriving, I would be the founder of my own student organization Greater Media Productions and serve as President for two years, serve on the Student Government Association, bring back and serve as President of the Residence Hall Association and now be inducted [into Charlie Hill Fellows], I would honestly think you’d lost your mind and had the wrong person. Upon arriving I only had the intention of going to class and back to my room. But God had other plans that He saw fit and He would use me to be an example and inspire those around me.”
Other inductees felt it helped them define leadership.
“To me, a leader means not trying to be like the rest of the crowd,” said Anderson. “It means stepping up, staying true to your authentic self, and knowing it’s okay to be different. Being different is not a downfall but, instead, a superpower that should be embraced.
The last event the Charlie Hill Fellows will do this year is the cleaning of a local cemetery in Petersburg.
“They need to understand that they are standing on the shoulders of some of these people,” said Wynn. “They need to make sure that the cemetery is respected. It’s a humbling experience.”
Charlie Hill Fellows Cohort 4 inductees: Chyna’ Prince, Amaya Woods, MaKhaila Bentil, LyAsia Monroe, Kayla Williams, Issamar Kirby, Tiani Miller , Malik Johnson, Tyrique McKie, Brandon Jennings, Dionte Davis, Yousif Omer, Alexis Butler, Alaya Frazier, Mikail Gilbert, Haydee Patterson, Sedora Booker, Iya Francis, Trinity Epps, Aliyah Duah, Mia Anderson, Aliyah Mayers, Camya Smoak, Bryce Meriwether, Yania Campbell, Jazlyn Edmunds, Kailyn Haye, Shaprille Preston, Kamelah Ribeiro, Nikiya Walker, Tobias Kargbo, Taylor Anderson, Aniyah Denis, Marcus Jones