Beginning Her Cougar Climb

Javonica Latimore makes her way through her first semester at Kean

Features > Beginning Her Cougar Climb
Beginning Her Cougar Climb
Javonica Latimore, a freshman environmental sustanability major is a leader in her everyday life.
Abigail Anne Rafael, Senior Editor

Javonica Latimore is all smiles since coming to Kean University. With a passion for singing and theatre, Latimore has spearheaded her start as a Kean Cougar by letting her passions and interests lead her toward higher pursuits. Along the way, she has made many friends and is actively overcoming challenges that come her way.

During her college decision process, Kean University's close community, many resources and cost effective tuition appealed to Latimore. Another characteristic of Kean that appealed to Latimore was the fact that Kean is conveniently close to her home, making it easy and convenient to get involved and excel on campus. These factors ultimately led her to choose Kean in her pursuit for a higher education.

Before even beginning her college career, Latimore applied and interviewed to join the Bronze Leadership Level of the Leadership Institute at Kean. After qualifying for membership, she was invited to the Bronze T2K Retreat over the summer with some 50 other Bronze Level participants, where she got a head start on her time as a Kean Cougar. She spent the retreat living in community with other Bronze Level participants as they learned the Kean culture of being involved and growing in leadership.

"The [Bronze T2K Retreat] was absolutely amazing. It was so nice being around people who were like me and very like minded, and everybody was open to talking and doing activities and being friends. Everybody was just so open to doing anything, and I love an environment where it's open and everybody can be who they are and be free. So, I really enjoyed everything about Bronze Leadership from the people to the activities, and learning about myself and about the people around me," said Latimore.

The Bronze T2K Retreat challenged Latimore and all the other participants to practice their leadership skills through many team building exercises.

"The greatest thing that I learned was to not be so critical of myself and to be open to new things, of course. And also just trying to find ways to be a better person and a better leader. A lot of the things that we did with the team building exercises, and all of that, was just showing me ways I could be an even better leader or an even better person. So I really liked that and I loved that I took that from that program," said Latimore.

Students accepted into Kean's T2K Bronze Leadership program are required to attend an in-residence, pre-semester retreat -- giving them a unique opportunity to meet the other student leaders as well as staff and administrators before the fall semester starts. It is designed to give the incoming student leaders the chance to learn about the many forms of student leadership at Kean, to explore options for campus involvement, and to build connections with peers and upperclass leaders. Here's a recap of 2019's Bronze Retreat!

The Leadership Institute's emphasis on community service and personal growth has continued to push Latimore to attain more leadership skills. Part of her interest in joining the Leadership Institute was due to her prior leadership experience as captain for her high school's robotics and engineering team. The robotics and engineering team had been a positive experience that has made her want to develop her leadership style further.

Now a freshman in college, Latimore is actively looking for clubs to get involved with to explore other parts of her identity. As an environmental sustainability major, she is interested in potentially working toward becoming an engineer.

"I'm looking to hopefully do something in the environmental engineering [field] because I really like engineering. That's one of the things I want to be a part of, so I'm really looking to be able to build things because I have so many ideas for making things better, and there's so many laws I would like to get passed and so many things that need to be said about the environment, period," said Latimore.

She is very passionate about bringing light to all the environmental issues society is currently facing, and wants everyone to become more involved in the health of the Earth. For now, Latimore continues to work hard in her academics and activities and is actively overcoming all the obstacles of transitioning into college. Latimore is sure to accomplish plenty in her time at Kean.

about the author

Abigail Anne Rafael, Senior Editor

Abigail Anne Rafael is the Senior Editor for The Cougar’s Byte and first joined staff in January 2018. She is a communication major with a concentration in public relations. Abigail aims to inspire and motivate readers with her writing. After graduating from Kean, she hopes to work for a Catholic company to dispel mistruths about the Church.