Student Eli Barnes is ready to boost student civic engagement through a new Rotaract club.

New Student Chapter of Rotary Club Starting

Eli Barnes is ready to make a change. After seeing huge disparities in access to resources within Beaufort County Community College’s service area, the Barnes is starting a student chapter of Rotaract, a global network of young professionals and students committed to making a positive impact in their communities affiliated with Rotary International. With a vision to foster service and leadership among his peers, Barnes aims to cultivate an organization where students can channel their energy into meaningful initiatives for societal betterment.

Barnes already serves as the president of the Fine Lines Club, the art and music club on campus. The idea came to him as his brother was playing football at a high school in a predominately Black and lower-income area. He was shocked by the disparities he saw compared to other areas. He connected his experience to lessons from his Social Diversity class that week about redlining and segregation.

“There has to be something that we can do to help,” he said. He went to his instructors with his desire for change. “We tossed around the idea of starting different types of clubs to try to get at the core of the issue, but then when we met with Dr. [LaTonya] Nixon, and she suggested the idea of the Rotary Club, and I thought that was perfect because it was an established organization, and we wouldn't starting from scratch.”

The Washington Noon Rotary will cover the $5 membership due for students.

With Rotary International’s ethos of service above self, Barnes recognized the potential for student-led initiatives to drive change. The Rotaract chapter will provide an avenue for students to engage in service projects, develop leadership skills, and build lifelong connections.

In thinking about the lessons learned from his Social Diversity class, Barnes said, “It would sit with me really heavily, some of the topics that were covered. I guess it was a build up of all of these different social disparities being presented in front of me through a class where I was like, this is where I draw the line. You know, I've got to help somehow.”

The proposed student chapter aims to organize a wide range of service projects, including fundraising events for local charities and civic engagement. By collaborating with existing community organizations and leveraging the resources of Rotary International, Barnes hopes to empower students to become active agents of change.

He appreciated the support the college has shown for his initiative. “I've been thankful to my professors, and any faculty and staff that have inspired me to do this, especially with [Chris] Campbell and [Tom] Grubb allowing me to be president of the Fine Lines Club. It made me realize that I am capable of leadership. [Tim] Moser and [Jessama] Allender for kind of opening my eyes to sociology as a whole, which is a core interest of mine now that I've studied it here, and Dr. [Dave] Loope and Dr. Nixon for really providing the foundation of the Rotary Club itself and giving it life.”

Students who are interested in joining the club can contact Dr. LaTonya Nixon, VP of student services, at latonya.nixon@beaufortccc.edu.