Dion Kevin sits under the shade of the oak trees in the Grove, feeling comfortable in the place he grew up. Born and raised in Oxford as the oldest of five, Kevin knows no other home.
“Everyone thinks that growing up here, you are exposed to the university and every facet of it all the time,” Kevin said. “The only interaction schools in Oxford really have with Ole Miss are sporting events and maybe, like, a science fair or two.”
Stepping onto the University of Mississippi’s campus freshman year as a student rather than a fan was a transformative experience.
“People expect to have a 13th grade when they come to Ole Miss, but that hasn’t been the experience for me at all,” Kevin said.
Kevin got involved on campus by joining Phi Delta Theta fraternity, service organization Lambda Sigma and College Corps. Through College Corps, Kevin pledged 300 service hours at Leap Frog, an after-school tutoring program for kids in first through third grade.
“I’ve been involved with Leap Frog since freshman year, but this year it has really consumed a lot of my time. It’s really great,” Kevin said.
Kevin is also involved with Coaching for Literacy, a literacy advocacy group raising money to fund programs like Leap Frog, The Barksdale Reading Institute and The Mississippi Children’s Museum.
He has served on RUF’s ministry team also holding leadership positions on Associated Student Body.
“Freshman year I was on Freshman Council, which is kind of a future leaders program for ASB, and then I was also senator,” Kevin said.
Kevin spent half of sophomore year as the executive liaison on the cabinet, closely working with the cabinet, president and Senate, before studying abroad for the semester.
Kevin came back junior year as the deputy attorney general of elections. He helped run and oversee the elections for the personalities campaign, preparing Kevin for his final mountain top: ASB president.
At first, Kevin wasn’t even sure if he wanted to run for president. Over the years, Kevin became disillusioned with the idea of what ASB’s purpose claimed to be. But it wasn’t until people started approaching him about a possible campaign that he begin taking the idea seriously.
“Over Christmas break, I was thinking about what I wanted to end my collegiate career with, and I thought maybe this would be a great opportunity to grow myself and really give my all to the University of Mississippi,” Kevin said. “It wasn’t this grandiose plan since I came to Ole Miss.”
A public policy major with a chemistry minor, Kevin said he plans on going to medical school. He said he schedules most classes in the morning so he can fill his afternoons with a tight schedule.
He lives with the newly elected ASB judicial chair, William Nowell, and attorney general, Dillon Pitts, creating a powerful triumvirate on Esplanade Ridge.
“It really wasn’t planned, but that’s how it kind of worked out,” Kevin said. “A very odd coincidence.”
Allied with close friends, Kevin’s experience in the classroom, throughout campus and in the community has helped shape his vision for what he wants ASB to be going forward.
Kevin said he believes ASB can seem inaccessible to the outside because of a perceived culture of elitism.
“People feel like if you don’t get on Freshman Council or don’t get involved freshman year with ASB, then you really don’t have a shot of being involved with it later on,” Kevin said.
Kevin said he feels frustrated because oftentimes once students aren’t involved, they don’t feel like they have the opportunity to go talk to someone about issues concerning them, something he says is a critical element of helping ASB improve the student experience.
“I feel like I’ve involved myself in enough facets on the community and campus to make an informed decision, but at the same time, there are a lot of other ASB leaders that are reached out to for their opinion, and sometimes they can’t give an adequate opinion because of the perceived inaccessibility of ASB,” Kevin said.
Combining his love for service and the community, Kevin said he hopes ASB can inspire a culture of “servant-mindedness.”
He wants to support community service year-round, which will allow students to integrate with and better build on the community. His goals include working with the McLean Institute to make service more accessible and encouraging the university to work with academic schools to promote service, possibly offering benefits like preferred registration.
Kevin also wants to improve the student voice in the community by instilling a student delegate to work with the local government.
“We are citizens here. Sometimes I feel like there is a lot of opportunity that is missed out when they don’t consider what the students have to say,” Kevin said.
Another way Kevin aims to improve students’ voices on campus is to put out applications for positions on different committees rather than appoint people straight off his cabinet. He wants to create a campus culture where ASB members are consistently engaged with the student body and serve as student leaders who inspire people to follow.
Kevin said political opinions play too big a role in discussions with the administration and the rest of the student body. He said he’d like to change that.
“I’ve really charged my executive officers to be apolitical as possible and not to wear their opinions on their sleeve because we can’t represent all students if those students have a jaded opinion of us,” Kevin said.
Kevin said has a vision for how he wants to shape ASB, Ole Miss and the community going forward.
“Passion is great, but things don’t get done unless you have a plan,” Kevin said.