Terrence Dillon and his Jackson State University teammates (Photo by UptoUs.org)

Terrence Dillon and his Jackson State University teammates (Photo courtesy of UptoUs.org)

There are many things a young man has to think about when transferring to a new school. A college junior, Terrence Dillon had this very experience a year ago when entering Jackson State University. Instead of waiting for things to come to him, Dillon got involved socially at his school, and through the organization Up to Us, which increases awareness about the impact of long-term national debt among millennials, he is making an impact on campus and beyond.

During his first year at Jackson State University, Dillon and his team won first place in the nationwide Up to US Campus Competition, beating out teams of students from over 75 college and universities across the United States. For their efforts, Dillon and his teammates earned $10K, the opportunity to attend and be recognized at the Peter G. Peterson Fiscal Summit, the chance to meet with lawmakers in the nation’s capital to express his views on America’s fiscal trajectory and, of course, bragging rights around campus.

Dillon has always sought to put positivity into every aspect of his life and the lives of others. He grew up in a rough neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, and his life was a constant barrage of combating bullies, escaping the gang violence which poisoned the streets and lamenting his poverty-stricken community. He’s always wanted to find a way to build a social movement. 

Rolling out spoke exclusively with Dillon about how he got involved, his big win and what the near future has in store for him.

Dillon learned about the competition from a friend. “I took part in the fall 2016 competition. He told me it was a great experience to learn about how to campaign and there’s a lot of opportunities for travel, so I was very interested. And, it was competitive. I’m a very competitive person,” he said.

In explaining their approach to the competition and how their creativity led them to victory, Dillon says, “We reached out to about 10 different local media trying to get coverage of our event, which was ‘Solve the Debt’ game night. We took traditional games like ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and made it ‘Wheel of Debt’; ‘Deal or No Deal’ was ‘Debt or No Debt.’ We actually handmade the games ourselves and held it on our campus.”

Next May, Dillon will graduate with a bachelor’s in finance. He has at least one more competition in him while at Jackson State University. “I’m taking part in the competition again this spring. I’m aiming for No. 1 again. I’m going to put my all in it. Let’s see if I can do a two-peat!” he says.

This writer is not a betting man, but I would say the spring 2018 Up to Us competition is his for the taking.

To learn more about Up to Us, including taking part in their pledge, visit http://www.itsuptous.org/get-involved/pledge.

 

Derrel Johnson

Lover of Christ, sports, hip-hop, my hometown of Harlem and much more. IG @JazzJohnson1