We spent time this spring catching up with Jade Abu Bakr `22, a strategic communications major, and Wynton Jackson `21, a journalism major, and asked them about their experiences so far at Hampton University and at the William R. Harvey Leadership Institute.
How did you decide to select Hampton University and how did you go about joining the William R. Harvey Leadership Institute?
Jade: I chose Hampton University primarily because of intuition. I just felt at home when I visited the campus. My parents mentioned to me that I also looked comfortable on campus, and that was true from the first visit – I looked and felt like I already knew the campus. I learned about the William R. Harvey Leadership Institute during pre-college, an academic program offered in the summer. Because I had already committed to Hampton University (HU), I was already looking for ways to continue to grow my leadership skills. I was fortunate to talk to a student who was already a part of that program, and she gave me more information about what to look forward to and why she decided to join. Ultimately, it came down to my love of learning and my desire to expand my leadership skills and grow on Hampton’s campus.
Wynton: In the spring of 2021, I met Dr. Battinto Batts, who is the former dean of the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications at Hampton [he now holds the same title at Arizona State University]. Including being a mentor, he also encouraged me to consider HU. My mom and I took a tour of the campus and the Scripps school. I was enticed by the idea of going to an HBCU (historically Black college and university). Coupled with the fact that the Scripps school is only one of three schools funded by the Scripps Foundation, I knew that Hampton was where I wanted to go.
After I committed to Hampton, Dr. Batts recommended that I join the William R. Harvey Leadership Institute. I didn’t know much about the program, but the allure of a scholarship, housing and course selection priority, and a minor in leadership drew me in.
Explain what the William R. Harvey Leadership Institute is and how your experience in the program is going so far.
Jade: The William R. Harvey Leadership Institute (WRHLI) was founded in 2000 under the school’s previous president, William R. Harvey. The purpose of the program is to prepare students at HU to become better leaders in their communities and on campus. It can also be declared as a minor once all necessary courses have been completed.
What I like most about the program is how much I have grown. I have been able to meet and connect with so many people from different grades. The program has also stretched me and helped me develop skills that I know I will use in my major and beyond. I am excited to see where the program will take me in the future, but it has been such a great experience thus far.
What does service leadership mean to you?
Wynton: The term “service leadership” to me is a little redundant. A good leader of any capacity consistently serves those around them. By definition, leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group to accomplish a goal. The word “process” denotes a cyclical nature; ideally, the followers of a specific group develop into leaders of another group. A leader’s job is to help those around them develop on all levels, not just in the task at hand. I think people get tripped up on the word “service” and immediately think of community service. While that is an aspect, service can also mean helping people in your immediate surroundings.
How did Country Day prepare you to be a leader?
Jade: Country Day allowed me to grow into myself. Being president of BCW [Black Cultural Workshop], for example, truly tested my determination and ability to delegate with a team. I was able to improve my time management skills and think more about how I carried myself in a room. Country Day not only taught me how to lead in academics but also to be more confident in the spaces I was in.
Wynton: To be good at anything, you need practice. No one starts as the best player on the team, the best musician in the band, or the smartest student in the class without going over the material repeatedly. Such is true for leadership. At Country Day, I had opportunities to lead in both sports and clubs, which prepared me for leadership roles in college.
How did the college counseling office here at Country Day help you make your college decision?
Jade: I believe the college counseling office truly inspired me to go for my dream school. I knew that I wanted to go to an HBCU and I knew that I did not want to be close to home. When it came to everywhere I applied and the vision I had for myself, I feel like I was encouraged throughout the entire process by the college counseling office. Their guidance also helped me to get to the right place when it came to my ACT scores and scholarship opportunities.
What is your favorite Country Day memory?
Jade: The first thing that comes to mind is the Cherokee trip in seventh grade. It was one of my favorite Middle School trips, with our trip to D.C. as a close second. Another memory in high school I enjoyed was hearing the bell ring the last time of my senior year. Although the sound was different, it was great to have that full-circle moment with my classmates.
Wynton: I don’t have a singular favorite moment; it’s more of a list:
- The very first CCDX Week, I had a racial & implicit bias class with Dr. Yven Destin that I wish was a full course but I’m happy I got to experience it for a week, at least.
- My sophomore year, the football team went 6-0 despite only having 15 players.
- All the basketball memories, including our trip to Pigeon Forge.
What advice do you have for current Country Day students?
Jade: When it comes to college and high school, my advice is to lean on your support systems. You should never think that it is you against the world. Everyone on that campus, freshman to senior, is going through similar trials. Do not be afraid to ask or even find ways to support each other. Being a CCD student is a privilege, so do not take it for granted. Spend that time there to grow and soak in everything you can before you embark on the college portion of your journey. Build relationships with your teachers, utilize your resources, and build smart habits. I am grateful for the memories and the long-lasting friendships I was able to make over my eight years at Country Day. I come back to visit because I truly value the love that was poured into me, and I want to do the same for those that are about to go on this next part of their journey. I love my Home by the Sea [a Hampton slogan], and I would not trade it for the world.
Wynton: For both high school and college, get involved in a club, a sport, or some kind of extracurricular activity. As you can see, some of my best memories were from extracurriculars, and they’re especially useful when trying to meet new people in college.