Ananda Collins, a spring political science graduate, will head to Syracuse University this fall on a fully-funded scholarship to the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. The five-year program will allow her to attain a master’s and a doctorate in political science.
According to the latest U.S. News & World Report, the school ranked No. 1 in the nation for graduate education in public affairs for the eighth consecutive year.
“I’m looking forward to growing as an academic and using research to improve the conditions of marginalized communities,” said Collins, a native of Jackson, Tennessee. “I’m also excited to live in New York. I want to see different cultures and learn more about myself. I’m excited about my trek to make a difference.”
Finishing cum laude at JSU, she plans to become a political science professor and, later, a college president. A change-maker, Collins is not new to leadership.
As a sophomore, she was one of three JSU students selected, from 800 applicants, to attend the 18th annual Public Policy and Leadership Conference at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government
“I’ve had a lot of opportunities throughout my years at Jackson State,” she said. “I’ve also been to conferences at Purdue University and Howard University partly due to the reputation of Jackson State and our political science department.”
During her senior year, Collins served as the president of the Fannie Lou Hamer PreLaw Society, which she calls one of her “primary loves” at the university.
The organization was in the midst of a two-year hiatus until Collins decided to work through the required protocols for reactivation. “I felt it important to get the society reregistered because it’s the only organization for social science students,” she explained. “It’s important because it helps more people of color have representation in law schools and graduate schools.”
The society hosts workshops and panel discussions to help students evolve within their discipline. It also assists them with recommendation letters, including college applications and testing. Collins said that the organization offers social science students a broader platform to discover opportunities like the ones she received
While at JSU, Collins was also a member of Outspoken, a student-led arts collective. The creative collaborative provides students with an outlet to express themselves artistically. Its membership boasts poets, rappers, music producers, singers and photographers, among others.
“I love Outspoken. Outspoken is such a vibe. It’s such a vibe,” said Collins, who also sings and practices photography. “It’s like everybody in Outspoken shares the same type of aura.”
Collins said that the organization shows members how to express themselves by offering support, providing constructive criticism and producing shows where they can display their talents.
“It really helps to reveal the inner you,” she said. “I’ve met a lot of people and made great connections through Outspoken. Whatever you need in the world of art, there is always a pro in our group that can help.”
For Collins, joining Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc is another proud accomplishment. Due to the public health epidemic, Greek organizations at JSU were unable to do their annual showcase – “Thee Great Reveal.” Instead, new members, like Collins, came out on Instagram.
“My mother is a Delta, so I grew up seeing her working in the community with other Deltas. They were the first to give me scholarship money. Plus, they are always involved with youth or social action programs that uplifted the black community,” said Collins, who also shared that she has always been involved in community engagement.
She expressed that it was important for her to join the organization so she could continue to give back on a broader platform and at a higher level.
“The women are really impactful. They really do the work. That is the thing that really connected me to this sorority,” she said.
Collins said that she wants to change the scope of how people view Greek life. “I really want to show people that the fun stuff is just a snapshot. Black organizations were created from a need to fight oppression and racism. Their narrative is about helping the black community. I want to put that narrative back in the forefront.”