Interview with Jevon Collins, OSUBAS Board Member; Program Director, King Arts Complex
Conducted by Sierra Martin, OSUBAS Student Representative
- Jevon’s history with Young Scholars Program (YSP)
Collins was inducted in the 3rd cohort of YSP in 1990. As a 6th grader from Woodward Park Middle School in Columbus, he received a scholarship at The King Art Complex as an 11-year-old. His counselor, Brian Cunningham, who he called a “great guy who really believed in me”, gave him the belief that he would be an Ohio State graduate. The program really allowed him to accomplish his goals, and his life has now come full circle as a Performing Arts Director at the King Art Complex, where at 11 years old he was receiving his diploma and induction into the program at the auditorium. Mr. Collins spoke on having flashbacks and getting emotional at the opportunity that made him who he is today.
- How did you get involved?
I was raised in a single parent household and was excelling in school despite the initial shock of a change in school district from Westerville to Columbus public schools.
- How did the program benefit him?
Jevon spoke greatly on how YSP has benefitted him. Overall, the program prepared him for college in a way other students weren’t prepared. He spoke on being on campus and in the dorms at only 11 years old, “I needed it to believe that I was going to college.” As a Young Scholar, he took courses during the Summer Academies, spoke with college students, and had the opportunity to be on campus at such a young age. He says YSP “validated me” and made him to “believe in his intelligence.” YSP provides students with the opportunity to prepare for their future in college and as Mr. Collins said, he “…hit the ground running.”
- Tell me about your current position at the King Arts Complex.
Mr. Collins is currently the Performing Arts Director at the King Arts Complex. He also serves on the OSU College of Arts & Sciences – Town & Gown Advisory Committee and the National Performance Network / Visual Arts Network Board of Directors. He secures arts talent, as well as presents and produces programs and events. The King Arts Complex which opened in 1987, is the only urban arts space in Columbus geared towards the African American community. It is named after Martin Luther King, Jr. and resonates with visitors all over who see King’s impact as well as the local Columbus community’s. As Performing Arts Director and Columbus native, Mr. Collins is working to get more people to visit the Complex at least once; he wants to “make our community better for nieces and nephews…and future children.” He states he does his job with the purpose of doing “whatever I can do to live under the light of Dr. King.”
- What are some of your goals for the Complex?
“The King Arts Complex is definitely a beacon of light,” Mr. Collins proclaims and this is something he hopes to continue in the next 5-10 years. He envisions a stronger local presence and the Complex as a destination for people interested in the history of Black Columbus and the Black American experience. He also plans to produce innovative programming for youth and seniors for intergenerational learning opportunities as well as resources for artists. This vision means more to Mr. Collins because it is his hometown and Ohio State is his alma mater, and he is “loyal to Columbus.” As he says, “I’m about making a difference and an impact,” and the King Arts Complex is a vessel for him to do just that.
- How would you like to see it tie in with the OSU Black Alumni Society?
The OSU Black Alumni Society and King Arts Complex could participate in more partnerships and relevant programming and increase their connection. More alumni could come to the Complex’s programming and there could be more programs on campus under the umbrella of the Society. The more of an exchange between the two the better in Mr. Collins opinion; each organization could feed off each other.
- Do you have a message for Black Alumni who haven’t joined and are thinking about joining the society?
Mr. Collins only had one thing to say, “I’d say do it…support anyway you can.” The Black Alumni Society has the opportunity to help in ways alumni could have benefited from as undergrad. As Mr. Collins explains, “if the university sees support from the society they will do more to retain black undergraduates and recruit more black students to the university. The Society has the opportunity to mentor and support our undergrad in ways that may not have been there for current alumni. Mr. Collins believes the Society can be a viable resource but we need the alumni to support and show the undergrad that they have a family who wants them to succeed.
- Anything else you’d like to be touched on in the February edition of the newsletter?
Mr. Collins main message was “more love for each other, especially during Black History Month.” Now more than ever we need to “stay woke and take initiative…with future programs of the Black Alumni Society we can and will make a difference!”