Q. What is your favorite experience as an Alumni Association leader/volunteer?
A. I love connecting with other alumni who are changemakers in their communities—teachers, non-profit leaders, corporate leaders, and entrepreneurs. Working as a UMAA volunteer, I get the opportunity to meet incredible people and learn more about the policies and practices that are shaping our region in the areas of education and human development.
Q. Why do you volunteer?
A. I volunteer for CEHD because I believe in the power of students and young people. I also volunteer because I gain a new perspective, new connections, and the opportunity bring my strengths to the table in service of others.
Q. Why would you encourage others to volunteer?
A. Volunteer because you can serve others, but also do it to serve your own continued growth and learning. Volunteerism can help you build skills, develop greater self-awareness, and discover purpose in a world that needs healing.
Q. Share some alumni words of wisdom.
A. As alumni of the U, we have the power to transform our communities, schools, and the systems that impact people’s lives. We need to listen deeply to one another, practice self-reflection and awareness, and use a systems lens to understand the problems we are facing. And we have a lot of work to do, so let’s get to it!
Jenny Wright Collins is the Executive Director for the University YMCA with the Y of the Greater Twin Cities. The University Y develops college students as changemakers on campus and in their communities with an emphasis on engaging students from underrepresented communities.
She also leads the Minneapolis Beacons Network, a collaborative partnership of the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis Public Schools Community Education, and the YWCA of Minneapolis. Beacons engages over 3,000 youth each year as leaders and learners by transforming schools into youth and community centers during the non-school hours, providing educational, recreational, and cultural activities free of charge for children and families in targeted low-income neighborhoods. Jenny has been with Minneapolis Beacons since 1999.
Jenny served as Minnesota’s Afterschool Ambassador for the Afterschool Alliance in 2004. She studied at the University of Minnesota where she received her M.Ed. in Youth Development Leadership and a Bachelor of Individualized Studies focusing on Youth Studies, Urban Studies, and Creative Writing. She attended the Minneapolis Public Schools and grew up in South Minneapolis.
See Jenny’s LinkedIn profile here.