In 2009, Roosevelt University President Chuck
Middleton made an unprecedented offer to all
students in the first two graduating classes at
Chicago’s recently opened Social Justice High
School: if they excelled in high school and met
certain academic standards, they would receive
a full-tuition, four-year scholarship to Roosevelt.
Fifteen students from those classes met the
challenge and enrolled at Roosevelt, including Channing Redditt, who would go on to
become president of the Student Government
Association at the Chicago Campus.
One of the most popular and engaging
students at Roosevelt, Redditt is a fixture at
University events and activities, but he’s best
known for being a leader. In addition to serving
in student government for three years, he
started the Proclaim Gospel Choir and was
president of RU Prime, a student organization
that promotes AIDS awareness and testing.
When Middleton announced the scholarship,
he said one of his goals was to form a bond
between two institutions which share a
mission of social justice. Through his volunteer
and leadership activities, Redditt, a Social
Justice Studies major, exemplifies the
commitment of both schools to community
service and educational opportunities.
In an interview with Roosevelt Review Editor
Tom Karow, Redditt reflects on his family,
goals and experiences at Roosevelt.
CHANNING REDDITT Both of my parents
really know the importance of education.
My mom wouldn't let us watch TV
or play video games unless we had done
our homework. And when we didn't have
homework, she often had us do a book
report before we could have fun.
CR My mom is a stay-at-home mom and
my dad works at Family Focus, a community
organization, helping men who were
incarcerated. They've been married for 27
years. My brother Cecil goes to Alabama
A&M and is currently getting his master's
in music education. My parents made me
who I am today. They taught me how to be
respectful and treat people the way I want
to be treated, which is the Golden Rule.
CR I grew up in Chicago's North Lawndale
neighborhood. It's my home and I love it.
I wouldn't say it's dangerous, but it certainly
is a place where you need to stay
on your toes, stay alert.
CR The school leaders came to my
elementary school and talked about the
school. At first I thought it was for criminal
justice and police matters, but then
I learned it is about differences and the
struggles people go through every day in
life. It turned out to be a great introduction
to attending Roosevelt. It was almost like
I was destined to go from Social Justice
High School to Roosevelt University.
CR I was the student representative to our
local school council and I was on the Campus
Council, which is the equivalent of a
student government association. That's
where my interest in leadership started.
CR I was at the high school
working on a math project
when they called and told me I
won. It was so exciting. I went
home and told my parents and
we were all very happy. The
scholarship just made coming
to Roosevelt even better. I was
also considering Illinois State,
but the full-ride helped a lot.
CR Even before freshman
year started, I went through
the Summer Bridge Program
at Roosevelt, which is part
of Project Prime. It definitely
helped prepare me for college
life. I took math and science
courses and learned more
about how to balance my time
for studying and homework.
I also lived on campus for a
week, which was good because
I found that it was different
being on my own without
my mom telling me to do my
homework before I watch TV.
As a result, freshman year was
actually the easiest year for
me. I also wasn't as involved
as I am now.
CR I've lived on campus my
entire four years at Roosevelt.
Freshman year I was in University
Center and I was able
to meets all kinds of people.
That's one of the things that
Social Justice High School did
for me – it gave me an opportunity
to be open and know
how to interact with different
types of people. My neighborhood
African-American. Now I have
lots of white friends, international
CR Sophomore year one of my
friends who was in student
government kept urging me to
join SGA, so I did. I was a senator
for a year and then was
elected vice president. In my
junior year I became president.
CR Yes, at least once a month.
We talk about issues around
the University and I give him
updates on what the students
are doing and feeling. Plus I
can talk to him whenever I
need to, if he's available. That's
pretty great access.
CR One thing we're pushing
for is the creation of a Student
Health Center. Many schools
have one and we believe
Roosevelt should too. Students
also want to have a multicultural
space. Even with the
new Wabash Building, there is
something missing. It would be
a place where everybody could
get together, a place of inclusion.
The election of senators
was another big issue. I'm glad
we recently changed the rules
so that from now on senators
will be elected, rather than
CR I say that if you really want
something to be done, come
and talk to me about it. I'll
encourage them to attend a
SGA meeting or email us with
their thoughts. If they don't do
those things, then their complaint
is just a complaint. We
want to make sure that if they
want something, they are willing
to work with us.
CR I was selected to be a
member of Roosevelt's Strategic
Planning Steering Committee
and welcomed new students at
the annual Convocation. I also
was the opening speaker at Roosevelt's
New Deal Service Days
one year. It's easy for me to talk
in front of groups. I guess I got
that preparation being a singer
CR I think Roosevelt needs
to focus more on students
who have been here for a year
or more. We do lots of things
for freshmen, but I'm starting
to see that people who have
been here for a while feel left
out. I think that also will help
CR I am a Social Justice Studies
major. The program is part
of the Economics Department
and combines economics, history,
political science and sociology
as they relate to social
justice activities. My plan is
to work with youth, especially
minorities who come from
low-income families. I want
to let them know that there
are opportunities out there for
them and to make sure they
take advantage of them. The
kids in my community have a
lot of talent, but some of that
talent goes to waste. They
need someone to encourage
them, keep them going. This
year, I'm working for the Jumpstart
program. I am reading to
preschool-aged children, kind
of like a teacher's assistant.
CR It takes great friends, a
great support system at home
and at school. You need to
know what resources are available
and then take advantage
of them. For me, Project Prime
was definitely the main thing
that helped me at Roosevelt.
CR I tell them that if they
want to make an impact in life,
they should come to Roosevelt.
Roosevelt can help you become
a leader. It is something they
do really well.
CR I'm still enjoying college
life. I'm not going to rush it or
speed it up, but I'll be ready
when the time comes.
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