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Illinois Experience: Jaylin McClinton

Jaylin McClinton, Chicago, aspires to be an attorney – and someday, a Senator or Supreme Court Justice. 

He knows that to reach those goals, he'll need solid leadership skills. So in addition to majoring in Political Science, he is pursuing minors in Leadership Studies and African American Studies.  Currently in his sophomore year, Jaylin is experiencing leadership first-hand by serving as a Multicultural Advocate (MA) at Oglesby Hall. 

How have your experiences as a first-generation college student shaped you during your first two years at Illinois?

One lesson I learned was to be humble and be willing to help others emerge into campus leaders.  Be willing to mentor students.  From my own experience, coming from Chicago and being a first-generation college student, I didn’t really have anyone (back home) to help mentor me through my experience. So I think it’s important to reach back and uplift others. 

Tell us about some of the peer-mentoring experiences you’ve had here at the U of I.

For me, (fellow MA) Jessica Newman has played a vital role in my mentorship and leadership development, as well as Aaron Beasley. I met Aaron through the Illini Union Board. One of the most admirable things that I like about him is his commitment to the people that he mentors. Aaron has been supportive of all my endeavors on campus and elsewhere. He and Jessica have pushed me to be the best I can be. I’ve had the opportunity to get to know them and their stories, and through those experiences I’ve kind of developed my own self-awareness to help others and want to mentor them.  

We have about 900 residents at Oglesby Hall, and I think my residents really look to me as a source of leadership.  There are a couple of residents I’ve especially resonated with, using my experiences to help them have a successful first semester at the U of I.

What other programs have made your Illinois Experience rewarding?

When I first came to the University I was offered the opportunity to attend Intersect, which is an I-Program that focuses on teamwork and developing listening styles. After that experience – because it was a great one! – my friend Danielle and I decided to go to all the I-Programs and really get the full experience of the Leadership Center.  Since that time I’ve been able to facilitate two I-Programs.  I’m about to attend LeaderShape, too, and I’m really excited about that.

Have you been involved with any of the cultural centers on campus?

The cultural centers and my MA position are kind of intertwined in a way; they build on each other.  I’ve been involved in some aspect of all of the cultural centers, doing collaborations with them as an MA or at least going to a lunch-and-learn to see a topic presented that I may not have known about prior to that.