Dione Reynolds stands in front of the Fisher Student Center

August 23, 2021

As the coordinator for mentoring and pre-programs at UNCW’s Upperman African American Cultural Center, Dione Reynolds juggles many hats. He manages the Excellence Project Scholars Program and advises the pre-law and pre-health student initiatives. He also oversees planning for Road to Sankofa, the Pre-Kwanzaa celebration, the center’s Leadership Boot Camp, Senior Sankofa and Black Table Talk.

The energy he gets from serving students is what he loves about his work.

“The best part about working with students is that they are all uniquely crafted individuals and are each navigating varying levels of their lives,” he said. “No matter where a student is, I seek to meet them where they are and assist them in getting to where they would like to be.”

Reynolds joined UNCW in July 2020. Starting his new job during the pandemic proved to be more challenging than he expected. The center averages 40 programs a semester and oversees 15 active Black student organizations. Many of those programs shifted to a virtual platform to provide support to students. The center’s staff also launched new programs, including the “Chop it UPP” podcast.

“Virtual programming allowed me to reach students in a way that I may not have considered and challenged me to be more creative in how I engage and retain students,” said Reynolds.

A native of Gary, Indiana, Reynolds decided to pursue a career in higher education after serving as an orientation leader and peer mentor in college.

“I saw the positive impact I was able to have,” he said. “Given my experience as a student and those of my peers, I recognized a need in higher education. This salient moment helped me realize that I would like to do this for a very long time. I looked to my supervisors and inquired about how they navigated their way into the positions they held at the university. After learning the necessary steps, I shifted my focus to research and practice in higher education, and haven’t looked back.”

Reynolds received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in organizational leadership from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Reynolds was attracted to UNCW because of the potential and effort that he saw being exerted by its constituents, he explained.

“I knew that this was a place that I could add a lot of value to, a lot of value could be poured into me, and there would be lasting reciprocal impact.”

Reynold’s goal for the 2021-2022 academic year is to re-imagine.

“Re-imagine what it means to be a student affairs professional. Re-imagine what student engagement looks like,” he explained. “Re-imagine campus culture and climate. I hope to be a beacon of light for what university could be if we all commit to re-imagining UNCW.”

-- Venita Jenkins