Jesse Dinkins may or may not change the world sometime in the future, but the world around her is surely going to benefit from her presence.
A senior at Lee’s Summit North High School, Dinkins has it in her mind what she wants to do with her life, and serving for the benefit of others is at the forefront of what she envisions.
Dinkins spent four days in August in Los Angeles as part of the Fourth Estate Leadership Summit at the University of California-Los Angeles and came away with the reinforced notion that helping those who need it most is part of her life’s calling.
“I felt like my sense of purpose was renewed being that I wasn’t the only one trying to make the world a better place on my own,” Dinkins said. “I also learned ways that I could help make the world a better place by doing small things instead of really difficult, uphill goals. I can make the world a better place by doing small community things and reaching out to people in smaller ways. It also gave me an idea of what I want to do in my life and how I want to live my life and that was really awesome.”
Hosted by the Invisible Children organization that addresses crimes against humanity in east and central Africa, the summit drew keynote speakers such as Samantha Powers, the new Ambassador to the United Nations, the cast of the Buried Life, a hit show on MTV, actor Don Cheadle, who has family members in Lee’s Summit, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the first and former head prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and Jamie Tworkowski, the founder of the charity To Write Love on Her Arms.
Representatives from NPR, Toms Shoes, Ted Talk, Relevant Magazine, and Teach for America were also involved.
“It was a really big social justice convention,” Dinkins said. “It was really awesome because I was surrounded by 1,600 other students who were drawn by the same type of services that I did; who were really into social justice and humanitarian values and that was really cool.”
A girls cross country and track and field participant, Dinkins also is involved with many after school clubs at North. Between academic responsibilities, after-school activities, sports and a part-time job at Poppy’s Ice Cream and Coffee House in downtown Lee’s Summit, Dinkins stills finds time to lend a hand in the community.
She is working feverishly to reestablish the Invisible Children group at North after the graduation two years ago of the school group’s founder, Emma Williamson.
“One of my best friends (Williamson) started the club and made the club really big that year,” Dinkins said. “Our club didn’t really continue on the next year because she graduated and nobody else really took it until this year. I’m trying to start the club back up this year at the school.”
It was Williamson who first got Dinkins on board with Invisible Children and who recommended Dinkins for the Fourth Estate Summit in L.A. Williamson is currently an intern at Invisible Children’s headquarters in San Diego while she takes a year off from studies at Southern Nazarene University in Oklahoma City.
“It was super cool that she got to come out and be a part of something so big,” Williamson said of Dinkins. “I felt like I was helping the community acknowledge that. I knew that she was into education reform and people at the summit were going to speak on behalf of that. I asked her if she would be interested in that and when she was I was able to work with my team to get her a scholarship to attend. All she had to do was pay for her airfare to get out to L.A.
“It was amazing. It was really great. I feel like the Midwest is super underrepresented in things like this, so it was so cool to have someone from home participate.”