On Feb. 6 EMU's Honors College held a lecture titled "Our World, Our Story: A Conversation with Jay’Len Boone." Boone is the eighth United States Youth Observer to the United Nations. This event was open to all EMU students and the general public and toward the end of the event, the audience could participate in open discussion panel with Boone and take photographs with him.
Boone was born and raised in the Ypsilanti, Michigan. He is a senior at the University of Texas double majoring in Global Affairs and Sociology. Boone is currently on a Youth Observer Michigan tour, Homecoming. This tour focuses on Boone’s life in the Ypsilanti and Washtenaw County area as well as his his success and advice to community members.
The event began with an introduction from Dr. Ann Eisenberg, Ph.D., Dean of the Honor College. Dr. Eisenberg explained her connection with Boone, which later developed into a friendship.
After the introduction from Eisenberg, Boone walked out in front of the crowd. With an energetic smile, greeting and waving, he began his presentation. Throughout Boone’s speech, Boone was able to touch on many different topics including his journey of success.
"Every time I’m in class and I’m want to give up, I think about you all. I think about my community, everybody who rooting for me to keep going and I think wow, for me to keep going it encourage somebody else to come up behind me,” Boone said.
Boone feels that being a first-generation college student and going out of state caused him to step outside his norms and begin to think outside the box. He faced many challenges as a young African American male as well as being the youngest person at various Youth Observer events.
Audience member and EMU student, Kai Le, connected with the lecture as a first-generation college student.
“I think is really encouraging to see the opportunities that are out there for first-generation students, I’m really inspired by the presentation I saw here today and I’m excited to take what I learned and bring it back to my community to improve it. Before this presentation, I didn’t realize that a young person could be such a business leader, so I am inspired to look forward to being a CEO and running my [own] non-profit. ” She said with an enthusiastic tone.
Dr. Eisenberg added her own personal takeaways.
“My goal in inviting Jay'Len Boone to EMU was to inspire students to set their goals high and to demonstrate to them that it's never too soon to have an impact on the world. If they have an idea, they can translate that idea into action and they can do so now. In addition, since Jay'Len is representing US youth in his role with the United Nations, I wanted them to have a chance to share their voices and concerns with him,” Eisenberg explained.
Eisenberg also offered advice to college students interested in starting their own journey of success.
“I would tell them not to be afraid to act and to talk and talk and talk to other people. Over my career in higher education, I have seen multiple students establish non-profits and businesses. All of them benefited from participating in multiple organizations where they could hone their communication skills and talk to others who shared their vision. They also benefited from being out in the larger community, where they found benefactors who believed in them and were willing to support them," added Eisenberg.
Boone is still interested in helping his community and inspiring other youth. Boone is the founder of the non-profit Sustainable Youth in Action (SYA) and resident in San Antonio, Texas.