Thursday, March 15, 2018

Leadership lived: UIS sophomore gives back by mentoring the next generation of leaders

Aaron Boyd came to the University of Illinois Springfield knowing he wanted to give back to his community. The sophomore is majoring in criminology and criminal justice at UIS and plans to become a police officer following graduation.

Boyd, who grew up on the South Side of Chicago, is the vice president of the UIS Black Male Collegiate Society, historian for the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Upsilon Xi Chapter, a student orientation coordinator for the UIS Office of New Student Orientation and Parent Relations and an intramural referee for UIS Campus Recreation.

As part of the Black Male Collegiate Society, Boyd mentors a second grade student at Springfield Public School’s Matheny-Withrow Elementary every other Friday through the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program.

“We talk with the boys and see how they’re doing and check on their grades and things like that,” he said. “It’s just important to give back. It’s a good feeling. It’s a good feeling seeing the smiles on kids’ faces when we come in and how they enjoy spending time with us.”

Boyd was recently picked to ask candidates a question about the environment during a UIS debate featuring Democratic candidates running in the primary race for Illinois governor.

“It was kind of nerve-racking. I was in front of a lot of important people. I was on TV,” he said, adding that the debate has given him a new interest in politics.

Boyd says he chose UIS because he had a brother who also attended the university.

“I came down here for a visit and people treated me with respect and treated my kindly, so I decided to look more into it and came down here and fell in love with the campus,” he said.

Boyd says he chose criminology and criminal justice as his major because he wants to continue to make a difference in his community as a state or local police officer.

“I just want to be there in my community, policing my own community, rather than letting somebody else police my community,” he said.

As a sophomore, Boyd has two more years at UIS before he graduates. In that time, he plans to accomplish even more and leave his mark on the university.

“I feel like when I graduate I will have made my name at UIS,” he said. “I hope to bring in the next generation of black males and help them make their names, just as I want to and have already.”