A Passion for Service, Activism
In 2012, Jonique Lyles was headed home to Poolesville, Maryland, when she made an unexpected stop in Raleigh. She and her mother thought they had finished their tour of several Southern colleges, but the women decided at the last minute to visit NC State.
“We ended up going to the visitor’s center right on time for a tour, so I thought we might as well go!” Lyles said. “From there, I knew NC State was a great school, with everything you could hope for in a university.”
Choosing NC State came easy, but Lyles needed time to find her path forward. She started her academic career in communication, followed by time studying economics and STEM disciplines. It was in student life, however, that she found her niche and truly excelled.
Lyles joined the Christian Mentoring Association; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., where she served as treasurer, social action chair and vice president; Student Government, where she was a senator and University Affairs Committee chair; and the African American Cultural Center as an AYA Ambassador. She even founded her own organization — SPEAK (Students Proactively Engaged toward Activism Knowledgeably) — to encourage students to get involved in arts and advocacy for pressing social issues.
“Through that work, I found my love of service and activism, and helping communities grow and develop,” said Lyles. “Political science was the answer that made the most sense in pursuing my passion.”
With her major decided, Lyles sought additional avenues of involvement, which led her to the Center for Student Leadership, Ethics & Public Service (CSLEPS). She enjoyed her experience so much that she sought employment with the organization through the Provost’s Professional Experience Program (PEP). Established by the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost in 2015, PEP gives students the chance to work on campus to prepare for life after graduation.
“PEP helped me strengthen my leadership skills and gave me an opportunity to show others the importance of service in their lives,” said Lyles. “I want to be able to take what I have learned into my future career, and working with CSLEPS has allowed me to get a head start.”
Lyles wants to put her degree to work within education — in K-12 classrooms, higher education or educational policy. Her experience at NC State inspires her to live a life of service, working hands-on with students and helping them to become society’s leaders.
“NC State has so many amazing opportunities to get involved on and off campus, and to find your niche,” said Lyles. “The organizations and people here — my friends, line (sorority) sisters, faculty and staff — made all the difference for me, and I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.”