On Sept. 27, Chancellor Kent Syverud addressed University Senate at its first meeting of the Fall 2023 semester. His remarks were as follows: Thank you, Professor [Kira] Reed. It’s a pleasure to see so many of you in person. We’re…
Jordan Pierre ’23 and Dylan Blaine France ’24 Determined to Help Next Generation of Students
Most students who come to Syracuse University as wide-eyed first-year students think they have all the time in the world to institute the changes they wish to see in their communities and on campus.
But the reality can be somewhat different: four years as a college student can go by in a heartbeat.
For active and engaged student leaders like Jordan Pierre ’23 and Dylan Blaine France ’24, their time at Syracuse has been spent honing their academic crafts, finding community and developing lifelong passions as agents of change on campus.
For those passions as student advocates to carry on beyond their four years on campus, Pierre and France want to help a new generation of student leaders pick up where they left off.
That desire to ensure students have access to essential resources on campus drove Pierre and France to become more involved in the University’s annual Black History Month (BHM) celebrations, which began Jan. 31 and run through Feb. 28.
Get to know two of the many student volunteers who have made the University’s ongoing BHM celebrations a success.
Jordan Pierre ’23
Since his senior year began, Pierre committed to reevaluating his role as a leader, someone who will empower other students to get more involved in decisions that affect their University.
“I’m trying to learn how to step back and empower others to become leaders. There are certain things I advocate for that I’m not going to remain in this space long enough to see come to fruition. You’ve got to make sure that, as you’re advocating for these things, you’re also empowering others to step up into leadership roles,” says Pierre, a broadcast and digital journalism student in the Newhouse School who is minoring in entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises in the Whitman School.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Pierre fell in love with the University’s energy during his first visit to campus, especially after witnessing John Gillon G’20 make a buzzer-beating three-pointer to lift the men’s basketball team to a thrilling win over Duke on Feb. 22, 2017.
Pierre has always been active on campus. He is one of Multicultural Advancement’s Our Time Has Come Scholars, volunteering on campus and in the Syracuse community, and he currently serves as president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity’s Delta Zeta chapter. Pierre is a Global Ambassador for Syracuse Abroad, and took his leadership skills overseas, participating in the 2022 Florence and London Summer Session.
Pierre also belongs to the National Association of Black Journalists and the Juvenile Urban Multicultural Program (J.U.M.P.), a mentorship program within the inner city of Syracuse whose mission is to reduce the high school dropout rate while increasing enrollment into institutions of higher education by creating a bridge for current Syracuse University students into the Syracuse community.
He’s thankful that, early on in his Syracuse career, two fellow Newhouse students—Cameron Simon ’21 and Daijha Thompson ’21—went out of their way to introduce Pierre to the faculty members who would play a large role in his academic pursuits. Their efforts helped create a sense of community and camaraderie for Pierre that has only strengthened as time passed.
“I had to get involved with our Black History Month celebrations. That’s just part of me playing my role. To make sure I’m building a blueprint for those who are coming after me. My mission in life is to bring hope to others, to equip people with the knowledge and tools to carry the baton when I leave. You want to make sure everything you helped to build sustains beyond your time here,” Pierre says.
Dylan Blaine France ’24
France, a native of West Orange, New Jersey, also felt that immediate connection to and affinity for Syracuse University. But her path to leadership encountered a massive roadblock when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March of 2020.
Moving into her residence hall her first year in the middle of the worst global health crisis in nearly a century made it difficult for France to find her community and her sense of belonging on campus. It wasn’t until her sophomore year, when France discovered 119 Euclid, a space to celebrate the Black student experience, that she finally started to feel like Syracuse University was home.
“I’m truly so grateful for 119 Euclid, which has been such a blessing and a safe haven for me. It’s a space where Black people can come together and be themselves. That’s where I found my people that I truly resonate with. Most of my closest friends at Syracuse came from 119 Euclid,” says France, a finance major in the Whitman School who is minoring in global political economy in the Maxwell School.
Motivated by the tight-knit relationships she formed, and the impactful programs offered at 119 Euclid, France felt emboldened to become more involved on campus. Last February, France helped launch the Black Student Union, where she held the roles of both an internal secretary and a vice president.
Among her involvement, France serves as one of two undergraduate student representatives to the Board of Trustees and is a finance board member with the Syracuse Student Association and a Whitman representative in Assembly. A member of the Black Honors Society and the Renée Crown Honors Program, France pledged to help celebrate the achievements of Black students, faculty and staff members across campus during BHM.
“Black History Month is a really important time for the Black students on campus. Our history should be constantly discussed and celebrated, as it is so heavily integrated into not only the American culture and history, but global history,” says France, a Whitman Leadership Scholar and proud alumna of the WellsLink Scholars Program.
How to Celebrate BHM on Campus
The campus community has been celebrating Black History Month through a series of programs, events and discussions. With efforts led by the Black History Month Planning Committee and coordination by Multicultural Affairs, the monthlong celebration is highlighting Black history, culture and rich traditions in alignment with this year’s theme of “Black Resistance: Building Bridges and Navigating Barriers.”
The monthlong celebration began with the annual kickoff celebration on Jan. 31, which featured student groups and performances. On Feb. 2, George Johnson, a journalist, LGBTQIA+ activist and award-winning Black, non-binary writer, author, and executive producer, was the commemorative speaker, and on Feb. 10, Paul M. Buckley addressed students during the Men of Color Induction Ceremony.
There are still a few more events planned, including:
- Annual Basketball Classic: Friday, Feb. 24, 7 to 9 p.m., Women’s Building, Gym
- Celebrating Black Excellence Gala: Saturday, Feb. 25, 7 to 10 p.m., Schine Student Center, Goldstein Auditorium. (Free tickets available through the Student Box Office)
- Breaking Stigma – Mental Health Matters: Tuesday, Feb. 28, 4-5:30 p.m., Schine Student Center, Schine Underground.