Jelani Bryant is a 19-year-old Freshman majoring in Environmental Science at DSU. He is currently serving as Freshman Class President and was recently elected as the youngest ever Men’s Council President, which oversees all men’s organizations at Delaware State University. He is an advocate for unity and academic excellence on his campus. Before assuming a larger role, he sat down with us to let us know more about who he is.
Interviewer: Where were you born and what was your upbringing like?
Jelani: I was born in Wilmington, Delaware. I had a rough upbringing for the first few years of my life and then once I turned around seven, I was in a stable environment and had a great time growing up.
Interviewer: Who has been the greatest influence in your life that has impacted the man you are today?
Jelani: My mother has had the most influence on my life. There were a lot of more consistent female figures in my life so most of what I’ve learned has been from them. She has taught how to treat people; the importance of education and of hard work always pays off.
Interviewer: What about your family?
Jelani: My family is like any typical family: loving, kind, supportive and stable.
Interviewer: Can you tell us of your education history and what your goals were when you were a student in College?
Jelani: Education has always been important in my life. I’ve been a part of honors programs my entire academic career. I plan to attend law school then transition into running for public office.
Interviewer: What was the most memorable point at school?
Jelani: My most memorable point at school so far, aside from meeting my best friend Jewel, was becoming a student leader. I have become not only a better leader but a better man in general. I’ve learned new ways to reach people on campus and have genuinely enjoyed life at DSU!
Interviewer: Is this where you thought you’d be five or so years ago?
Jelani: HELL NO. I thought I would still be playing football, at a larger D1 program. Although, I will say I’m happy where I’m at and it’s been better for me going to an HBCU and being in the position I’m in.
Interviewer: What informed your decision on doing what you’re doing now?
Jelani: Keeping my future goals in mind, I felt like being a graduate from an HBCU would help the representation when I’m in the corporate world.
Interviewer: As Men’s Council President, what are your plans for the future?
Jelani: To plan and deliver the best year as Men’s Council President. Inspiring and uplifting all men on campus while finding the best way to appreciate the women as well. There is a lot to look forward to next semester such as a men’s week and a potential gala.
Interviewer: What kind of advice would you offer a student, who is undecided on his or her career path?
Jelani: I would encourage them to read Jeremiah 29:11 which is about how God has a plan for all of us. Also, to align with the right people to better position yourself for whatever you choose to pursue.
Interviewer: How would you describe the state of higher education in America today?
Jelani: Higher education is important but has become more about finances rather than the success of the students. I empathize and admire students that are working their way through college because being a student is a fulltime job in itself.
Interviewer: Have you ever traveled outside of the United States? Where, and how does life outside compare to that in the US?
Jelani: I’ve been to Canada and multiple Caribbean islands. I would say they appreciate being around each other and have more emphasis on human decency.
Interviewer: What does the future hold for America?
Jelani: The future will be shaped by this generation, we are still evolving so I’m not sure. Although, I have faith in my class, Class of 2023, to be excellent and become the doctors, lawyers, and political game-changers we can be.
Interviewer: Are you interested in politics? If no, why not? What is your take on the state of politics and the future of American democracy?
Jelani: Heavily interested in politics. I believe the current democracy is being controlled by super PACTs which contribute an enormous amount of funding to politicians. This is wrong. I believe the future of democracy will be better if Americans realize the power in their votes and if politicians were able to stand on their own merit.
Interviewer: How are you responding to the outbreak of the Convid-19 virus?
Jelani: I think this Covid-19 situation has been very challenging especially for a person who doesn’t like staying indoors, like myself. I believe the government can do more, as in taking care of citizens. People are being laid off, children are home from school. The government should have more money aside for pandemics and should do a better job of controlling the situation.
Interviewer: How would you describe your philosophy of life? That is, how do you see this life and what principles get you grounded and moving forward?
Jelani: Knowing that I was placed on this earth to achieve my goals and inspire others to do that same keeps me moving forward and grounded. I think life is a gift and we should live in a way that is pleasing to God.
Jelani: I am…. Going to create change, and not have change affect me.