Jalen Newell received the call from Valerie Frazier ’91 (M.P.A. ’94) inviting him to be a member of the inaugural class of 1967 Legacy Scholars the same day he was scheduled to tour the University of South Carolina campus. As a South Carolina native, he was planning on applying to Clemson, USC and the College. The call from Frazier seemed like fate.
“Coming to the College of Charleston as a Legacy Scholar meant that I would receive a generous scholarship, and I’d have the opportunity to live on a campus steeped in Black history and Gullah Geechee influences,” says Newell, who is now a junior majoring in public health.
“Jalen is the embodiment of the civically minded leader, always lending a helping hand, offering a cheerful smile or leading the charge for social justice,” says Frazier, associate professor of English and director of the 1967 Legacy Program. “Many people may not know that Jalen is a classically trained viola player, but this talent speaks to his multidimensional and beautiful spirit as a person. When he speaks, it’s a true symphony: Everyone listens and appreciates his insightful wisdom. With his Lowountry roots and leadership skill set, Jalen is destined to be changemaker in this region and beyond.”
Newell has made the most of his time since his arrival on campus and is involved in a range of leadership roles. He is an orientation intern and the treasurer of the Black Student Union (BSU), community outreach chair of the Student Alumni Ambassadors and president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity/TAU ETA Chapter.
“I began working closely with Jalen as the advisor to the Black Student Union when he volunteered to serve as treasurer,” says Rochelle Johnson, director of the Office of Multicultural Student Programs and Services. “Working with Jalen has been an effortless experience because of his willingness to learn and grow even when encountering hurdles. I’m excited to see how this role reinforces his confidence as one of the BSU leaders.”
His role as the leader of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity has also helped his confidence.
“We strive to be leaders not only on campus but throughout the community in order to promote service to its highest capability,” says Newell, explaining that the philanthropic fraternity was the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans and is largely service oriented. Chapter initiatives at the College including voter education, food insecurity and health and wellbeing.
“We do a lot of community service projects like clothing drives, and we partner with a local church to collect food for ‘Alpha snack packs’ that we distribute on campus,” he says, adding that the fraternity is also involved in mentoring young Black men at local high schools. “As a public health major, I’ve also worked with my brothers to create STD/HIV testing events to educate students and raise awareness on sexual health issues.”
With aspirations of working in immunology at the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, Newell plans to pursue a master’s in public health and a medical degree upon graduating from the College in 2025.