WAVE Magazine Fall 2018 JU_WaveMag_Fall18_2 - Page 31

THE FIRST WODEHOUSE FELLOWS Chuck and Cami recently partnered with the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute and the City of Jacksonville to create JU’s first-ever Master of Public Policy Minority Fellowship Program. Announced mid-February, this historic initiative received backing from Mayor Lenny Curry and key community advocates. The goal of the Fellowship is to offer future African-American leaders a two-year JU Master of Public Policy scholarship, a City of Jacksonville internship, and job placement after graduation that keeps their leadership and talent within the region. "This is a very attractive program,” Chuck said, and he looks forward to the 2018/2019 inaugural year. In a conversation one afternoon with Rev. Mark Griffin, a dear friend of the Wodehouse family and former colleague at CSX, Chuck asked, "How do we clone you?" They had been discussing leadership issues. With past experience as a CPA and clergyman, he later founded a charter school in Eureka Gardens located inside Jacksonville's urban corridor. Mark shared the opinion that leadership problems within Jacksonville's African- American community centered around retaining talent. “I wanted to know how to keep bright, young leaders from relocating to Charlotte, Miami, and Atlanta,” Chuck said. Soon, the conversation turned to the Public Policy Institute. The unique concept involved affording the most talented African-American graduate students a chance to earn a prestigious degree and gain broad exposure to national, regional, and local public policy issues. Preparing these students to lead while creating diverse employment opportunities in the public, private, and non-profit sectors perfectly fit what Chuck and Mark envisioned. The Fellowship provides two full-tuition scholarships per year, worth a total of $40,000, to qualified minority applicants. Recent graduates from JU, the University of Florida, Florida State University, Florida A&M University, and other schools in the region were encouraged to apply. This inaugural year, 20 applicants competed for the two fully- funded seats. Chuck said, "Out of these applicants, we had students from nursing, information technology, political science, law, and other disciplines. It was an eclectic group, and that's great because we look for well-rounded people." By the last week of June, the Fellows selected Tameka Gaines Holly and Javon Knight. Rick Mullaney, Director of the Public Policy Institute, stated, “As you know, we received many outstanding applications. This Fellowship has great potential to create a new generation of leaders.” Jacksonville Director of Community Affairs Dr. Charles Moreland and Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) Chief Executive Nat Ford attended the February press event, as did retired Edward Waters College President and former Jacksonville Sheriff Nat Glover, Jr. “Think about it: young people entering into this program can look up and say, ‘I can be that.’ This program will do nothing less than accentuate our city, and keep our best and brightest home,” Glover said. President Cost called the program “a stellar example of a real partnership of impact,” and Mayor Curry dubbed it “a double-down commitment for the future.” Chuck simply said, “I don't think people yet appreciate what this University can and will do.” THE REAL NAME OF THE GAME Chuck says that during the last five years of his 18-year service to the Board, he realized that he didn't know the students. Not really, and not personally. "Linda Stein and I set the pace for named scholarships, and we hoped to build momentum. To inspire people. The best part, of course, is gaining that student connection. That's big." Both Chuck and Cami believe that giving to buildings is wonderful. People giving support to programs, they agree, is also great. But when you give to students, that equals a one-on-one relationship. He said, “I would rather have a relationship that lasts the rest of our lives than anything else. The ultimate reward for us is to see our scholarship recipients succeed.” Cami speaks fondly of Rachel Wassel ‘17, a Wodehouse Scholarship recipient through ASPIRE. She graduated cum laude from JU’s Keigwin School of Nursing and is now working in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville. “She recently spent an afternoon with us and then we went to dinner,” Cami said with a smile. “It was just so much fun to see her again and to hear about all that she's doing." When asked about their joint vision for the future of JU, Chuck and Cami list endowments, increased enrollment, and a further diversified student profile. They acknowledge there is room for growth and improvement, but are quick to remind everyone of that special brand of JU potential. They also acknowledge that, at the end of the day, it takes funding. Opportunities start with funding, Chuck says. “Here’s what I want—when people think of Florida, the next thought in their minds is Jacksonville University, where they have that great program in aviation, speech pathology, public policy, etc.” Chuck often repeats something he heard Jack Keigwin say, and he says it captures his family’s long-term goals for the University: “People in the South talk about their alma mater like they talk about their family. To be proud of your alma mater is huge, and we want all our graduates to be proud of JU.” WAVEMAGAZINEONLINE.COM 31