Joshua Dantzler is a rising junior in the School of Public Affairs at American University pursuing a degree in political science and a minor in communication studies. Originally from Rock Hill, SC, his upbringing has led him to have a passion for politics, a spirit for community involvement, and an interest in addressing educational and racial inequities. Knowing the importance of staying active and engaged, Joshua serves his campus community as a Complex Program leader, an AU Ambassador, a brother of the Nu Beta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Inc., an executive board member of the Black Pre-Professional Society, and a student worker in the Center for Diversity and Inclusion. When not on campus or in the classroom, Joshua can be found amplifying the voices of students through social media as the Director of Social Media for Student Voice (@stu_voice). He's a lover of politics, pizza, and plays and his D.C. adventures can be followed with his hashtag #DantzlerInDC. Follow him on twitter @prezjoshua or email him at [email protected]
My name is Joshua Dantzler. I’m 20 years old from South Carolina and am going to school in Washington, DC. I tell people all the time that I’m a Southern boy turned city boy. I’m majoring in global science and minoring in Communications.
I also work serving my campus community, my broader D.C. community, and my home community. I’m always serving other people and focus on including others and helping others feel appreciated and valued.
My first job was a work study position through American University’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion. American University’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion has an invite-only transition program to support first-year students in their transition to college the summer before their freshman year. STEP (Summer Transition Enrichment Program) helps prepare students for academic success, connects students to resources, and provides an opportunity to create lasting friendships. The directors saw my passion for diversity and inclusion through my participation in this program, knew that I would eventually need a job, and offered me a role! In this position, I worked on programming initiatives and social media outreach.
I did not have relevant professional experience, but my campus involvement and volunteering in high school and middle school helped prepare me: I led a multi-cultural club in high school, was involved in student government, and I sat on the youth council (which was grounded in program planning and initiatives). While I hadn’t held any paying jobs that prepared me for this position, my involvement in high school and middle school gave me the tools I needed to succeed.
Since I’ve been in college, I’ve had two tribes. I can feel my tribe from South Carolina cheering me on -- my family is the core of that tribe, but it also includes my church family, and my friends. On campus, my colleagues/supervisors at the Center for Diversity and Inclusion have mentored me and checked up on me. The folks at the Center have been a part of my D.C. tribe and a valuable support system for me.
My advice to adults would be three things:
- The first would be to listen. We often forget the power of listening, and we think that just because we’re listening, we’re listening deeply. Often, that’s not the case. We need to be intuitive with what we’re hearing and take the time to understand what others are saying.
- That actually leads to my second piece of advice: follow up. Those who I consider my mentors always follow up with me. The follow-up is so crucial and it’s more than just checking in once. This makes a big difference and shows you care.
- Practice empathy not sympathy. Students face a lot of issues and in order to support them, you need empathy. With empathy comes action, while sympathy results in stagnation.
I spent my first half of the summer as an orientation leader at American University. In this capacity, I made sure to tell all my students about ways to get jobs on campus, including by tapping into resources like our work study job site and job/internship fairs. I think I can further support other students by helping them with their resumes, cover letters, LinkedIns and generally sharing the knowledge I’ve picked up along the way.
I’m going into my junior year so I still have two years left of undergraduate education. Beyond that, I’m focused on two things:
- I definitely want to continue my education journey. I plan to pursue a masters degree and one day a doctoral degree.
- I would like to work in an organization or office that aligns with my goals and allows me to give back. Whether it’s a position in a nonprofit, the government, or a center or program on campus, I want to live a life where I can ensure others are included, valued, and cared for.