Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Citizen Scholars
Alia Jones
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Alia Jones

Citizen Scholar

Major: Humanities Prelaw Minor: Spanish

Why did you decide to become a Citizen Scholar?

I decided to become a Citizen Scholar because, especially coming into my first year, I wanted something that really gave me a sense of community and a group that was going to support my academic interests as well as things that I’m interested in outside of academia like service. I definitely wanted a group that could fit all of my needs into one, which Citizen Scholars does perfectly.

What is the most rewarding aspect about being a Citizen Scholar?

It’s rewarding having a group of people who share similar interests as you, want to be civically-engaged liked you, and care about things like service and knowing and expanding on different cultures. I definitely think that we’re probably one of the few groups on campus who are really pushing students to become civically-engaged and global-minded thinkers.

How has Citizen Scholars helped you work toward your professional goals?

Right now, I am considering law school. I’m actually starting to realize what kind of law I want to go into and I am looking more at civil rights issues and representing people of impoverished communities. The Citizen Scholars program has allowed me to think more globally and allowed me to have different perspectives when I go into situations, so when I talk to these people in these communities I’m going to be able to have a different mindset going in rather than me just going through my years of college and not getting exposure to other cultures and the way people might see things differently.

How does being a Citizen Scholar helped you reach your personal goals?

I love community service, and through [the program], I’m exposed to more things that keep me involved in my community. Even after college, wherever I end up living, I want to serve my community.

Where do you want to study abroad or away?

I’m a Spanish minor as of right now, so I’m thinking of doing a study abroad over the summer in Spain within the next couple of years. I definitely want to become more fluent and get exposure to that culture specifically because I love the Hispanic, Latin culture in general. And, going back to my career goals, there’s going to be instances where I’m working with Hispanic people and people of the Spanish-speaking world so I definitely want to be able to use that to connect with people on a deeper level.

What is your favorite class that you’ve taken so far at MSU and why?

Right now, it’s AL 210. I’m in the Theatre and Social Justice section, and it’s been my favorite because I love getting new perspectives on theater and the arts in general. I’ve never used to consider thinking about theatre as an art form and how that can be used to portray social justice and shed light on those issues. Whenever I used to go to performance or play and just watch it, I didn’t actually think about the deeper meaning behind things, so the class has allowed me to see and understand the importance of supporting all of the arts and all of the humanities. They all have the potential and the possibility of reaching people and touching lives and creating social change. We’ve also had to act out a lot more than I thought we were going to, but it’s not necessarily out of my comfort zone but it’s pushed me into a new comfort zone because I’m comfortable talking in front of people, acting and stuff like that, but I never did it much before, so it gave me the opportunity to do that. 

What kinds of extracurricular activities are you involved in around campus or East Lansing?

I’m in my hall government right now, which is fun getting to represent my dorm and go to meetings and planning events and have pizza, stuff like that. And then I just found a more religious organization that I’ve been really involved with. It’s called Collegiate Black and Christian (CBC) and that’s something I really enjoy. I’m also a tour guide here at MSU and that has been a very rewarding experience. It’s something that I have always wanted to do, and I love meeting nice people and being a resource for them.

How would you say that these activities have added to your learning here at MSU?

With hall government, it’s definitely prepared me for the future and life outside of college because when you do these things for people, not a lot of people appreciate them and not everyone takes advantage of the resources and the good things we’re doing for our community. It’s definitely prepared me in the sense that that’s how life is going to be. Not everyone’s going to appreciate everything you do and not everyone’s going to take advantage of the things that are offered to them, but there’s nothing you can really do about it except just be present and be there. With CBC, my faith has always been something that’s important to me and my parents are pastors so I grew up in the church. It was actually a struggle for me to find a good religious organization that I felt related to me on a deeper level, and so when I found CBC, it was just amazing and I made a lot of friends through it. It’s nice when you meet people who can relate to you on so many different levels, like the same experiences as you, being African American and also just being a Christian in general. That’s really shaped me and helped to keep me grounded, which is something that’s important to me.

What is one goal that you hope to achieve by the end of your undergraduate experience?

One of my goals is to have a positive impact on Spartan lives as well as let other Spartans have a positive impact on me. I thinking going to such a large university, sometimes it’s easy to feel like you’re getting lost in the crowd. You have things you want to do but you feel like you might not touch people because there’s so many people to touch and there’s so many people to talk to. I’m trying as best I can to allow that to happen and to just meet many different people outside of my culture and outside of my idea of normal, and to connect with them on a deeper level because I value the difference of cultures and the appreciation and respect that I have for other cultures, so definitely getting to know more people outside of my culture and what I know to be normal.