How Malique Lewis’s high school experiences prepared him for SA

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Malique Lewis has wasted no time since becoming Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion at the Syracuse University Student Association this semester. Two weeks ago, the sophomore spoke at the opening event at 119 Euclid Ave., a brand new student center dedicated to the celebration of black culture at Syracuse University.

Lewis wanted to create a space on campus where everyone can feel comfortable, he said.

“My goal is to highlight the uniqueness of each one, to solve problems that people may have and bring them to the administration so that we can work together to create positive change,” said Lewis.

The sophomore from SU is a Posse Fellow from Miami. Prior to starting the League in the fall semester of 2020, Lewis participated in organizations that helped him develop his leadership skills and confidence. He said as soon as he was nominated for the Posse Fellowship, he knew he wanted to come to the League to make his mark here. Since his beginnings here, he has sailed the campus as a musician and a member of the Student Association.

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When Lewis arrived at SU, he said it was difficult to get involved with organizations on campus due to the fact that COVID-19 was making classes and events virtual. So he worked on his other job to captivate his audience: making music.

The second has written his own rap and hip-hop music since he was in seventh grade, and he had his first live performance in high school during his sophomore year. Lewis said he performed in front of hundreds of students at the event.

“I have talent. I might as well show it off, ”Lewis said. “I can’t be afraid. My performance was pretty good, but it wasn’t as good as it is now. It’s all about trial and error.

His love of performing followed him after graduation and led him to perform for SU students in April at a live student concert hosted by University Union. Lewis said he remembered jumping at the chance when he received the email from UU looking for students to participate.

For Lewis, music is a meditative experience and presents another medium through which he can express his desire to make an impact.

“Making music that is inspiring is one of my favorite hobbies,” Lewis said. “It taught me courage and that anything is possible.”

Keith O’Brien, a Lewis-time high school mentor with the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence group, said the League sophomore wanted to learn everything. “He’s not really a person who can get stuck,” O’Brien said.

Long before Lewis set foot on campus last year, Lewis began to get involved in the community. While in high school at the Miami Lakes Educational Center, Lewis began to participate regularly in social activism in the group 5000 Role Models.

Lewis credits the organization, a mentorship program founded in 1993 by Frederica Wilson, then a member of the Miami Dade County School Board, with helping him build his confidence for leadership positions. The project aims to help young men become better leaders in society, Lewis said.

Lewis joined 5,000 prime male models in his freshman year of high school before becoming vice president in his sophomore year and president in his junior and senior years.

“(5,000 role models) have changed my life, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without it,” he said. “It taught me to be the best version of myself.”

Through the program, Lewis and other members have served as role models for students of color from kindergarten to high school, offering academic, career and life advice, the program’s website said.

Vice-President of the Student Association for Diversity and Inclusion Malique Lewis

Surya Vaidy | Staff photographer Maya Goosmann | Director of digital design

Eventually, Lewis had the opportunity to attend a number of events representing the community, one of which was the 2019 Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, DC, for which Lewis was a guest speaker.

“It was a big deal, standing in front of thousands of people, many of them congressmen and women. I talked about the potential we have to make our community – our country – great, ”he recalls. “There were people crying in the audience. When you can make people cry, it hits home. ”

Lewis continued to hone his speaking skills in high school, and instead of attending his virtual diploma in 2020, he spoke at Hard Rock Stadium for the Police and Youth Conference. This annual event brings together police officers and members from 5,000 role models, offering everyone a chance to come together and build relationships for the future and education of members, he said.

Since college, Lewis has participated in Upward Bound Math-Science, a federal TRIO program at Florida International University providing federal outreach and service to low-income and first-generation students. Here he met one of his longtime mentors, Shadrack Joseph, who became the program director towards the end of Lewis’ sophomore year of high school.

“We got along pretty well at first,” Joseph said of Lewis. “We were able to develop a good working relationship.

Joseph has offered academic and life counseling throughout Lewis’s high school career, helping him apply for and receive a Posse Foundation scholarship and move on to college, he said.

As Lewis studies in Syracuse, he wants to stay in close contact with his 8 year old brother who is in Miami. Lewis is motivated to do great things and to let his brother know so that “he will do even better than me”.

Lewis said last year he decided he wanted to take on a new leadership role. He met Justine Hastings, the president of the SA at the time, who told him that applications for ministerial positions were open for the following year. Lewis said he saw the cabinet post for Diversity and Inclusion and thought, “This post needs someone like me who sees the good in humanity.”

Ultimately, with whatever he decides to take on, Lewis wants to bring change in any way he can and most importantly inspire, whether through his music or his projects with SA. He hopes to be a leader that the students can be proud of and plans to fight for the students as much as possible, he said.

“I want people to feel like they have a home here,” he said.

Joseph said Lewis was a good fit for the role.

“(He’s) really excited about the diversity and inclusion agenda,” he said. “He’s not the typical teenager. He thinks differently (and) he definitely has an old man’s brain.

O’Brien added that Lewis is a “deep thinker” and doesn’t take anything at face value.

But Lewis just intends to let life unfold on its own and let things flow.

“A lot of these things, they just happen. That’s why I don’t like to stress. When you get down to business and stay focused, things fall on you and life opens up opportunities for you. “


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