Student organization travels to nation’s capital

Three FAMU students recently traveled to Washington D.C. as a part of Young People For, a leadership organization. They beat hundreds of applicants and were inducted into the 2007 Fellowship Class of YP4.

Calvin Hayes, 19, a freshman public relations student from Orlando; Mario Henderson, 19, a sophomore political science student from Daytona Beach; and Whitney Murray, 20, a junior political science student from Jacksonville, took an all expense paid trip Jan. 11- 15 to create blueprints for problem solving, network and to address problems in the school and community.

Young People For is a foundation that aims to provide a national infrastructure to support young leaders. The Web site says that YP4 “works to build intergenerational networks that will enable progressive organizations to identify a significant pool of talented, qualified, passionate and committed young leaders and encourage their continued professional development within the progressive movement.”

There have been nine fellows from FAMU chosen, including Student Body President Phillip B. Agnew and Student Body Vice President Monique Gillum.

Out of more than 1,000 nominations and 400 applications, 180 students were chosen to advance progressive values and issues in their communities and prepare for leadership roles in the movement. The 2007 Fellowship Class members come from community colleges, state universities, historically black colleges and universities, tribal colleges, liberal arts colleges and Ivy League universities.

To be a part of YP4 students have to be nominated by past fellows and complete an application. City Commissioner Andrew Gillum nominated Henderson after working with him.

“This truly is a great experience and I thank Commissioner Gillum every time I talk to him,” Henderson said.

“I’m glad there was a program out there to fire me up and get me more into politics because I was ready and had the willingness to learn,” William Miller, a business student from Chicago, nominated Calvin Hayes.

YP4 believes that young people can provide the progressive movement with a vital infusion of ideas, energy and passion, and their commitment to continued activism and leadership is critical to building a progressive future.

“I believe I fit the part of Young People For because I do believe in progressive movements and organizing,” Murray said. In addition, she said she truly believes everyone was created equal, and America could get more things done if everyone would set aside their differences and work together.

YP4 teaches and encourages those principles. It partners students with diverse young activists to empower them to be “change agents” on their campuses and in their communities. It prepares them for long-term roles as leaders in the progressive movement.

“I believe that I fit the part of Young People For because politics is one of my loves, and I believe people should get involved and share their voices and thoughts about their community,” Henderson said.

The members of the YP4 Fellowship Class had to create blueprints for how they plan to better their campus and communities. Hayes’ blueprint was all about recycling and making the community and campus cleaner.

“I am still working on my blueprint, but when I am finished our campus will be cleaner,” Hayes said.

There are other advantages for the students who have become a part of the organization.

“The benefits of becoming a fellow are the local allies you will be connected to and being informed about job opportunities and internships,” said YP4’s Communications Specialist Jamia Wilson. Along with that, students are offered $2,000 to help with their blueprints and business plans.

Although young adults cannot enter into the fellowship without being nominated by a past fellow, they can still go online, register on the blog and become a community member. Being a community member means they get to talk to other fellows online and receive a newsletter that tells them what YP4 is doing throughout the year.

Both Henderson and Murray agree with Hayes, who said YP4 is a great program because he meets contacts and makes connections all over the world. All three believe that students should start getting more involved in their community and schools.

“Young People For started out as a conference and now it is so much more, it’s all about making progressive alliances around the nation and improving societies,” Hayes said.