Alonzo Brown is from Chicago. Danny Little is from Jackson. Both learned – during different generations – key history and culture lessons at Jackson State University, lessons they shared Saturday during the university’s annual Move in Day.
Brown, a 1996 JSU graduate, beamed as he explained how he helped recruit his niece, Makalia Brown, to Tigerland. “I think my brother wanted her to go to an in-state school, but I kept reminding them about Jackson State,” Brown said. “She has good grades. She’s an honor student and here we are.”
Actually, Makalia Brown said, JSU was not a hard sell. “I was always interested in Jackson State,” she said before receiving a hug from President Carolyn W. Meyers. “The university offered me a scholarship and I am going to play golf.”
Little, a JSU football player in the early 1980s, was helping daughter Miyah get situated. “This is all about the love we have for this university,” said Little, who grew up in the neighborhood around campus and whose oldest daughter is a rising senior at JSU. “This is the school that we grew up wanting to be a part of.”
The Browns and the Littles were among the hundreds who were greeted at the Walter Payton Recreation Center by faculty, staff and administrators, including Meyers. Meyers started her day at Alexander Hall before going to the Payton Center and later to football practice.
“I am just thankful to these young people for making a great choice in coming to Jackson State,” Meyers said between hugs with students, parents and university employees who volunteered to help first-year and transfer students move into their dormitories.
“This is just a beautiful day,” Meyers said at Alexander Hall before sharing laughs with basketball coach Wayne Brent, baseball coach Omar Johnson, volunteers from the Wesley Foundation and taking scores of pictures with students and parents.
More than 1,000 students were expected Saturday. And unlike in years past, the Payton Center was the first stop. Students were processed in four groups by alphabet at staggered times. They were assigned housing, able to address financial aid issues, get their student IDs, parking decals and even be admitted to the university.
“This is a one-stop shop,” Phillip A. Cockrell, associate vice president for student life and dean of students said as he answered questions from parents and students or directed them to various stations inside the Payton Center. “We wanted this process to be seamless for our students.”
Makalia Brown’s journey to JSU was seamless – in a way, her father said.
“She was accepted to a lot of universities but Jackson State was her first choice,” David Brown said. “We’ve sent her to Catholic schools since first grade. She said, ‘Daddy, I really want to go to an HBCU to learn more about my people.’ I had to respect that.”