SYI Spotlight: Shelby Maynor, Making a Difference in Baldwyn and Beyond

shelby-maynorby Rachel E. Anderson
After a life-changing experience, Shelby Maynor hopes the skills she learned will make a difference in Mississippi. Maynor, a junior at Baldwyn High School, plans to launch Beyond Baldwyn, a service club for high school students aimed at making a difference in surrounding communities.

She developed the club at the William Winter Institute’s Summer Youth Institute (SYI).

Each June, 30 Mississippi high school students attend SYI. The future leaders — to be selected, they navigate a rigorous application process consisting of multiple interviews and essays — spend nine days in Oxford participating in workshops focusing on relationship building, history, diversity, and civic engagement. Each student designs their own project, based on a need or problem within their local communities, and signs a contract to pursue the project for two years, working with community stakeholders and Institute staff.

With Beyond Baldwyn, Maynor hopes to help Mississippi communities in need and inspire more volunteering within her own small town of 3,300 people north of Tupelo. She started the project after realizing there were only two student service organizations in her community, both of which served only Baldwyn.
“Several communities surrounding our community and beyond that are not as well off as ours. If we were able to help, we could make a difference,” said Maynor.

“She noticed a disparity between her community and the community around it,” said Melody Frierson, Youth Engagement coordinator at the Winter Institute. “Through community service she can unite these communities.”
Maynor plans to partner Beyond Baldwyn with Habitat for Humanity for their first service project.

Already, many local students have told Maynor they are looking forward to working with the club. She believes with their involvement more people will volunteer: “I think that once people see young people wanting to help, they will be inspired to get involved.”
Frierson agrees. “[Youth volunteerism] is saying ‘If we can do this, why can’t you?’ or ‘Why aren’t you doing this already?’ Hopefully, that will light a fire under [adults]. And once you see an example, once you see people out there doing something, it becomes less scary for you,” said Frierson. “People have eyes and ears. People are looking out and looking at what teenagers are doing and are getting just as inspired.”

Maynor applied to SYI for its leadership opportunities, but left the program with much more. “[SYI] was life-changing. It opened my eyes to things I have never thought about before. It opened my eyes to the different kinds of racism there is, and how broad it really is,” said Maynor. “Mainly people think of racism between African American and whites, but I learned that it wasn’t just that. There’s so much more involved.”

Now, Maynor is launching her campaign to improve Mississippi. She is extremely grateful for all the Winter Institute was able to teach her, including how she will launch Beyond Baldwyn.

Click here for more information on the Summer Youth Institute.

Rachel E. Anderson is a junior broadcast journalism and Spanish double-major at the University of Mississippi from Chesapeake, VA.

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