CAMERON ALFORD | STAFF REPORTER
Freshman Jaquell Hamelin, a Chicago native, said “there is beauty in the struggle” of leaving his hometown to come to school in Indianapolis.
Hamelin, a sociology major and social work minor, sees the issues of living in Chicago every day, but he still considers his hometown a special place.
Hamelin said his family had to pull a lot of strings to get him to Butler University. He attended a private high school in Chicago, where he earned a scholarship that pays for most of his tuition.
In high school Hamelin experienced a culture similar to Butler’s: a predominantly white school where he represented the only diversity in his classes. However, what he knew there was different from the issues he faced in his community.
He said Chicago is permeated by high rates of unemployment, teen pregnancy and random acts of violence.
Although community issues were evident, one school gave Hamelin a chance to make an impact on his community.
He received a full tuition scholarship from Butler, and he is using that opportunity to learn how to make a difference in the lives of young people by mentoring them.
The sociology major said his city is misguided. He wants to be able to shape and guide the young minds of the inner city in a positive direction.
“I have always believed in paying it forward,” he said.
Laila Grayson, a freshman finance and economics double major from Wyoming, Ohio, is paying it forward by educating other students about the significance of big-city issues.
Wyoming is a suburb of Cincinnati, which Grayson said is in the midst of rebranding. “The effect is right in my face.”
Cincinnati, she said, is currently battling a lack of funding for public schools and the prevalence of crime and heroin addiction in the city.
Coming to Butler, then, the freshman said she had high expectations both for herself and those around her.
Grayson said she had an experience in her integration and assimilation class where the teacher realized late in the semester that her students felt passionately about the topics.
“People don’t really talk about the issues that are hard to talk about,” she said.
Her proudest moment was when her best friend at Butler said she helped him view the world differently by thinking about important issues he had never thought of before.
For Dena Phillips, a sophomore political science major and criminology minor from Columbus, Ohio, change is an imperative part of facilitating a flourishing community.
When trying to decide which college to attend, Phillips said she looked for smaller schools in big cities so that she would have the opportunity to make an impact in her community.
Phillips is a part of Butler’s chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, an African-American-founded Greek sorority.
In joining A.K.A., Phillips has found a sisterhood and a community that fostered an interest for change.
The sophomore uses her sorority as a platform for making a difference in the lives of the Butler community.
Butler facilitates a great sense of community already, but Phillips said diversity needs to be a primary focus for the university.
In her opinion, Butler is making progress, but “we can do better.”
These three students have made their impact felt by identifying the issues, educating students about the significance of these issues and addressing them in a strategic way. These students have made Butler their home.
As students, they understand the importance of initiating a more diverse community on Butler’s campus.
Although Phillips sees the potential for a more diverse campus, “if we are not learning, or even accepting, then I feel we are not making change – that is not The Butler Way.”