by Leah Jackson
Northwestern State University students Jairus Killings of Syracuse, New York, and Caiden Matthews of Shreveport have been named Reginald F. Lewis Scholars by the University of Louisiana System. Killings, Matthews and two students from each of the other eight schools in the UL System were introduced as the second cohort of R.F. Lewis Scholars during a pinning ceremony at the University of Louisiana at Monroe during the annual Universities of Louisiana Black Male Summit.
Scholars were ceremoniously pinned by University of Louisiana System Board Chair Liz Pierre, former Board Chair James Carter and System President and CEO Jim Henderson
“These 18 young men join the first cohort ready to develop into better students, more engaged community members, and culturally aware citizens equipped for life and career success,” Henderson said.
The Reginald F. Lewis Scholars program provides a three-year curated education experience focused on academics, social advancement and community service. Students will be paired with a research mentor to connect classroom theory with a real-world problem and will have the opportunity to present their research at the ULS Academic Summit and other conferences. Other components include a study abroad experience, experience in management, leadership and mentoring and a system-wide service learning project.
Also recognized as the ULS Black Male Summit was NSU student Ebenezer Aggrey of Baton Rouge, part of the first cohort of R.F. Scholars, who earned the James Carter Exemplary Leadership Award during the Summit. Aggrey is a business administration major, a track and field student-athlete and will serve NSU’s Student Government Association as vice president in the coming academic year.
At NSU, Killings is a musical theatre major who is a Demon Volunteer in Progress and involved with My Student Theater Organization, D.O.O.S. dance organization, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Demon Volunteers in Progress and Theta Chi Fraternity.
“Being selected [as a R.F. Lewis Scholar has nothing to do with what you did to look good for the application process, but it is more connected to what you have done for your campus before you even know that the Reginald F. Lewis Scholar selection is available,” Killings said. “It’s not just about what you do on the stage, in front of your peers or even what comes out of your mouth. It’s about what you do behind the scenes and whether those words you have spoken are backed up by your actions. Your devotion to give back to your mentors, teachers, campuses, and neighborhoods. Your desire to learn how to lead. Your determination to succeed because failure isn’t an option for you.”
Matthews is a computer information systems major who is also an ROTC cadet and Demon VIP and involved with Alpha Lambda Delta, Student Government Association and Presidential Leadership Program.
“To be selected to be a scholar is to lead the way for others, to go through hardship and obstacles that others will benefit from, that will inspire others to follow the path that you make, to take risk and prosper from your findings,” Mathews said. “What is expected of us as scholars is just that, along with representing our institutions and community.”
Information on R.F. Lewis Scholars is available at https://www.ulsystem.edu/rflewis-scholars/.