BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— Jazmyne Kellogg ’16 couldn’t know it then, but her life took an important turn on the morning of Aug. 27, 2012.
On her first day of classes as an Illinois Wesleyan student, Kellogg walked into her Gateway Colloquia course, “What’s Race Got to Do With It?” The course pressed students to understand themselves and others within the context of race, privilege and disadvantage.
“The class gave me the vocabulary to understand and process my life experiences and the world around me,” Kellogg recalled. “Dr. [Meghan] Burke also explained what [the field of] sociology really is, and that’s when I got really excited about it. I was hooked.”
The experience also ignited Kellogg’s passion for social justice. “I could see my experiences and those of people from my culture discussed within the field of sociology.”
Kellogg changed her major from psychology to sociology, utilizing her newfound knowledge to forge a path for a more just world, one conversation at a time. At IWU she become a first-year resident advisor in her residence hall and a Multicultural Educator in the Office of Residential Life.
Over time Kellogg took on other leadership roles, including president of the senior class and two terms as president of the Black Student Union. With several other multicultural student leaders, she founded the Council for Inclusion and Awareness, a multicultural programming and leadership development council composed of various student organizations.
“She lived the University’s core value of diversity,” said Matthew Damschroder, former assistant dean of students who is now a vice president at Juniata College. “As the Lead Multicultural Educator, she solidified a programming series on campus called ‘Dispelling Myths’ and she served as an advocate and role model for other students who seek a more social, just world.”
Watching other Multicultural Educators grow in their roles was especially rewarding, Kellogg said. “It’s tough to talk to people about race, and gender, and class, and to meet people at their level of understanding so we can build on that and grow,” said Kellogg. “So to watch the transformation of the Multicultural Educators, from the way they were at the beginning of the school year to their experience at the end — that was pivotal for me. And I think for them, too.”
Kellogg is also proud of the 'Dispelling Myths' sequence of programs. True to its name, the series tackles critical issues by discussing popular narratives on a given topic, then educating participants about the facts. “We had students from all over campus come and dispel these common myths about different groups and identities,” she said. “It’s important to have a student panel represent their own voices, instead of someone else speaking on their behalf.”
A personal representation took place in the fall of her senior year. While studying abroad in South Africa, Kellogg said her perceptions of her identity shifted. “When I’m in America, my Blackness is most salient, but in South Africa, my identities as an American and as a woman were the most prevalent,” she said. “I learned a lot about my gendered experiences, and I learned to navigate the privilege that comes with being an American, which was something interesting and new for me.”
The South African experience also reinforced the importance of adventure, whether hiking up a mountain or trying new foods, or attempting to speak one of South Africa’s languages, Xhosa, with strangers. “I lived with three different host families and had so many rich, cultural experiences,” she said. The experience also heightened her belief in the power of student voices, as she saw South African students demonstrate and prove to themselves and the nation that they would no longer stand for a system that silenced and disadvantaged them, she said.
Her time in South Africa was Kellogg’s third international experience. In junior high she traveled to Europe through the People to People Student Ambassador program. “I loved it,” she recalled. “I wanted to experience the world and to see other cultures for myself.” The vast opportunities for study abroad, along with allowances to use her financial aid for study-abroad credit, were strong selling points in her decision to attend Illinois Wesleyan.
Kellogg was also among the inaugural group of students selected as Freeman Asia interns in summer 2015. Thanks to a grant from the Freeman Foundation, more than a dozen IWU students interned in the Philippines, Hong Kong and Japan. In the Philippine province of Bulacan, Kellogg, who grew up in a Chicago suburb, struggled to adjust to rural Angat. Through a series of adjustments and interactions within the community, she learned the values of perseverance and altruism.
“My original purpose for visiting the Philippines was because I have a passion for social justice, and I thought I’d be able to give something to an underprivileged community,” she wrote in her blog of the experience. “I am learning this is a shared process.”
As a new college graduate, Kellogg is once again at an important turn in her life. She’ll bring her passion for social justice and for education to her new role as an undergraduate admissions counselor for the University of Illinois in its Chicago office. “I will be able to help recruit marginalized students and help them obtain an education, something that’s been so important to me,” she said.
“Her heart and intentions are so beautiful,” Damschroder wrote in nominating her for the Student Leadership Distinguished Service Award for Student Service to Campus Life. “Her contributions [to campus life] represent the best of what happens when students find and live their passions.”