Wichita State News
Photo: Jennifer Wright
Senior Jacqueline Wesley is president of the African American Student Association at WSU. The psychology major enjoys serving her fellow students, as well as the community as a church youth director and Girl Scout leader.

Student leader wears many hats

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Senior Jacqueline Wesley is many things to many people. She is a daughter, sister, student, president, troop leader, youth minister, choir member and friend.

Whether you know her as “Jacqui” or “Jae,” Wesley is dedicated to serving her peers and the youth in her community.

“I really love working with kids,” said Wesley. “My goal is to someday open up an early childhood education center that is faith-based,” she said.

A Wichita native and oldest of three siblings, Wesley is a psychology major and is minoring in ethnic studies.

She graduated from Heights High School in 1999 and immediately began attending WSU. She chose WSU because it was close to home.

Wesley’s transition from high school to college proved to be challenging to her. She admits that she was not focused on her studies and found the college experience overwhelming.

She took time off before transferring to Butler Community College, where in 2004, she graduated with an associate’s degree in early childhood education.

WSU welcomed her back in 2005.

“My second time around is much more active and I’ve met a lot more people,” she said. “I really enjoy myself and I love being here.”

Wesley is well-known throughout the Rhatigan Student Center, where she spends a considerable about of time being involved in student government.

She is the current president of the African American Student Association (AASA), serving her second term.

“I was nervous,” she recalled about being nominated as president.

Wesley saw that previous AASA presidents were more political and dressed professional.

“I wear tennis shoes and jeans, but still get the job done,” she said.

As an adviser to the AASA for the past four years, Carmen Hytche, who is the special events director for WSU, said, “Jacqui has been active in many organizations but has long been an asset to the African American Student Association. She has served AASA in various capacities, but most recently as president. Even as she steps down, she says she will continue to support AASA.”

For the center for student leadership, Wesley is the program coordinator for the alternative spring break program.

“This gives students an alternative to the usual spring break activities by giving back to the community in some way,” she said.

As a lifelong Girl Scout, Wesley is also leader of a Girl Scout troop. For the past three years, she has led a troop of 13 girls, beginning when they were in kindergarten.

“I told them that as long as I stay in Wichita and I don’t get married or move away, I will stay with them through their senior year in high school,” she said.

Since 2004, Wesley has been a youth minister and is the current youth director of her church. As youth director, she plans and implements the curriculum for children of all ages. The close-knit group participates in activities such as music, dance and choir.

“It’s very hard work, but the benefits are rewarding,” she said. “I love doing it.”

When she is not serving her school, her community, her church or just being a student, what exactly does she do for fun?

Wesley hesitates.

“That’s a hard question. I get my joy from helping people.”

There is one thing that Wesley does enjoy - singing. She loves to sing and is part of a small group called Gethsemane that sings at different churches around Wichita.

After she graduates in December 2009, Wesley would like to pursue a master’s degree in child psychology. She feels that more minority involvement is needed in the field, particularly in helping minority children with disabilities or special needs.

“If a child doesn’t see someone that looks like them, they may not perform as well as they can,” she said.

Hytche said, “I think long after she graduates the campus is going to remember ‘the girl with the red hair.’”

Regardless of her career path, Wesley is making her mark by doing what she loves - serving her fellow students and the community.

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Created on Wednesday, February 25, 2009; Last modified on Wednesday, February 25, 2009