Chianté Lymon (B.A.’18, Criminal Justice) only graduated a couple of years ago, but she’s already doing big things. Recently announced as the new executive director of the Board of the Society of History and Racial Equity (SHARE) Chianté is putting the leadership skills she perfected as a WMU student to good use.
Known as “a committed social justice leader and strategic thinker with a vision for extending the organization’s racial healing work,” by the society, Chianté will work to carry out SHARE’s mission of educating the community on the importance of the Kalamazoo region’s African American heritage and fostering connections and conversations on race and providing awareness of racism and the broad societal benefits of its elimination.
"My life goal is to further the agenda of social justice, with an emphasis on racial equity,” said Chianté. “As I continue my work of exploring historical racism, it is equally imperative that I examine racial inequity in today's climate. Working through a social justice lens and uplifting my lived experiences to make an impact is what led me to S.H.A.R.E."
Chianté was selected after a rigorous search process to identify the individual best equipped to lead the 18-year-old non-profit founded by predecessor, Donna Odom. She leaves her role as Social Media and Technology Specialist at the Kalamazoo Defender, where she was previously a legal assistant and the board liaison and facilitator for the office’s Anti-Racism Team.
A Detroit native, Chianté moved to the Kalamazoo area to attend Western Michigan University. In 2018, she graduated as a full-time, first-generation college student with dreams of becoming an Attorney General and running her own non-profit. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, has served as the former Student Body President of WMU, Homecoming Queen, and institutionalized voter registration at WMU for students to understand the importance of civic engagement.
Here's a snapshot of how Chianté made the most of her time at WMU:
1. Why did you choose to attend WMU?
I chose to attend WMU, after attending signing day in 2014, I met Alvina Gipson who was very welcoming and after looking at my transcript and hearing about my goals admitted me on the spot.
2. How did you select your major?
For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in Criminal Justice and Law. At the age of 8, I decided I wanted to be an Attorney General and decided that learning more about the legal system through the Criminal Justice program was a way to make that happen.
3. Were you involved in on-campus activities or organizations outside of academics?
I was involved on campus, starting my first year at WMU.
- Western Student Association- Senator, Political Affairs Chair, President (First Black Woman)
- Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated
- Drive Safe Kalamazoo Volunteer
- WeVote (Institutionalization at WMU )
- Her Untold Stories Heard (Co-Founder)
- Black Student Union (Member)
- WMU Signature Program Committee
- Homecoming Queen
- United States Student Association
4. What was a formative moment in your time as a student that continues to influence you?
A formative moment in my time as a student was going to Washington DC to lobby on behalf of students. This experience helped me find my passion which is advocating for others. After that, I took on several leadership roles and worked to advocate for change within the university and the community even today.
5. What is your advice to current students?
Do not be afraid to try something new, college is a time to branch out and get involved in things you haven't tried before. If you think there is a need on campus, start an RSO just because it doesn't exist doesn't mean it isn't needed.
6. What are you most proud of academically and in your career?
I am most proud of graduating in four years from WMU. I am a first-generation college graduate and I did not have much guidance from my parents because they did not have this experience.
7. What’s next for you? What are your plans/goals for your next steps?
I would love to continue my career in a leadership role in some capacity because this is where I thrive. My goal is to attend law school in the coming years and obtain a JD to continue my work in Racial Equity and Justice.
8. What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to travel in my spare time, just recently I completed a program in Europe for The Fund for American Studies an organization based in Washington DC. I met people from 13 different countries and we had the opportunity to discuss COVID-19 and how it has impacted the way we view health and wellness.
9. Anything else you’d like your fellow alumni and the campus community to know?
Society for History and Racial Equity is always looking for volunteers and interns so if you are interested in learning more about myself or the organization you can go to our website sharekazoo.org.
Please learn more about SHARE’s racial healing facilitations, the Summit on Racism, Reading Race book group and other initiatives by visiting us at: sharekazoo.org.