Up to Us Team Accepting AwardBY OLIVIA S. GOODHEART

Five Jackson State University W.E.B. Du Bois and Maria Luisa Alvarez Harvey Honors College students used a combination of inventiveness, partnership and hard work to win the fifth annual Up to Us campus competition. Students from 75 colleges and universities around the country participated.



Up_To_Us_logo_800x433From those 75 teams, 20 finalists were chosen by a panel of judges from noteworthy organizations including Shai Akabas, director of Fiscal Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center; Kerry Searle Grannis, associate director of the Brookings Institution’s Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy; Gordon Gray, director of Fiscal Policy at the American Action Forum; and Steven Olikara, founding president of the nonpartisan Millennial Action Project.

The leader of the winning team from Jackson State, Terrence Dillon, was very creative with the events he spearheaded to raise awareness on the national debt. He leveraged the popularity of television game shows and held events such as “Debt Jeopardy,” “Wheel of Debt,” and the “Debt is Right” on the JSU campus.

Dillon, a 21-year-old senior finance major from Homewood, Ill., led the team to very successful events with high attendance. Nearly 900 people attended Jackson State’s My Two Cents Day activity and the team inspired 936 students to take the Up to Us pledge. The team was also able to partner with a competition-high 19 other campus groups in order to raise awareness among their peers.

“The energy and creativity of Jackson State University’s winning team and all the students who have joined this growing movement is a shining example as we seek to create greater economic opportunity and a brighter fiscal future” – Michael A. Peterson, President and CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. 

“I am passionate about making a positive change in my community, and as a college student, I’m always thinking about my future economic opportunities. When choosing what campus groups to get involved in, I was drawn to Up to Us because it combined my passions with a topic that I felt was important to share,” Dillion said.

“By participating in this year’s competition, my peers and I realized that when it comes to building a prosperous future, it really is up to us,” he adds.

Other members of the winning team include: Samuel Lewis, 20, junior economics major from Valley Cottage, N.Y.; Gerson Guevara, 19,  senior urban studies major from Brandywine, Md.; Jaquan Walker, 20,  junior psychology major from St. Louis, Mo.; and Javan Davis, 19, senior music education major, Kingshill, Saint Croix, VI.

The winning team from Jackson State will receive a $10,000 prize, recognition at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s 2017 Fiscal Summit in Washington, D.C., and the opportunity to travel to meet with legislators and policymakers in the nation’s capital.  Jackson State students place third nationally in last year’s competition.

Up to Us is a groundswell of student activists who’ve engaged more than 100,000 people to raise awareness on the national debt, with a focus on finding nonpartisan solutions.

In 2011, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation teamed up with Net Impact and Clinton Global Initiative University to engage college students on this critical topic.