African-American Student Union New To CMU
Established in January
February 15, 2017
“Everything in life has a process,” CMU junior Kiona Sinks says. “I’ve learned to look at the big picture—how will it affect life in the future?”
Using that philosophy, Sinks has helped create a highly successful new organization on the campus of Central Methodist University. She is founder and president of the African-American Student Union (AASU), which officially came into being in January. Its membership is already nearing 50 students.
The mission of AASU is to foster a community for African-American students at CMU; to promote diversity among campus students; to build leaders; and to develop social, educational, and recreational initiatives.
The current AASU officers are Sinks, a sociology major and psychology minor formerly from Jonesboro, Ark. and currently of Columbia, president; Victoria Coleman, a senior exercise science major from Grandview, vice president; Quiz Falls, a freshman music education major from Marshall, secretary; Lee Jimerson, a junior business major from St. Louis, treasurer; Larry Adams, a senior from Marin City, Calif., chair of cultural and social activities; and De Vondre (Dre) Burris, a junior religion and church leadership major from Los Angeles, Calif., chair of community service.
The advisers for the organization are David Calloway, CMU head football coach; and Lealure Tindall, CMU administrative assistant for the Graduate Studies Program, College of Graduate and Extended Studies. In addition, AASU includes alumna Briana Greer, a 2015 graduate from St. Louis who is the chair of the alumni committee. One of ASU’s goals is to connect alumni back to Central.
Sinks’ leadership style includes incorporating professional development, as she is learning as part of Leaders of Tomorrow through Higher M-Pact, and long-range vision. She credits her mentor, Tyrone Flowers, who has led her to this pivotal position. Flowers, a lawyer from Kansas City, spoke at Central’s MLK Day Celebration on Jan. 16 about the Higher M-Pact program he established to help young people turn their obstacles into opportunities.
Sinks names her grandmother as the one who provided support and consistency in her life. Her grandmother helped her lay a strong foundation and kept her on the right path. “She pushed me to see gifts in myself,” Sinks said. “We all have something to add.” The important part, Sinks said, is to use these gifts to be successful in life.
She applies that belief to AASU. The members, she said, see things from a different perspective. Diversity is important to them, both on and off of Central’s campus. The organization strives to bring together people who wouldn’t normally cross paths otherwise.
While the focus is on African-American students, the organization is open to any students, regardless of race, gender, religion or home country.
Sinks initially chose CMU because it looked like home. It was beautiful, she said —the buildings, the grounds, the care clearly shown to the campus, and the people. Visual for this generation, she pointed out, is essential.
“I’m enjoying my time at Central,” Sinks said, “yet looking forward to being a proud alumna. I hope the things I’ve learned here will pay dividends in the next five-10 years. I am very grateful to God and Higher M-Pact for my background and to Central for my education.”
“I hope AASU flourishes for years to come, and I’m glad to have laid the foundation,” Sinks summarized. ““It’s never easy, but it’s worth it!”