April 24, 2014

Changemaker of the Week: Kerlyne Jean-Baptiste ’16

posted by Swearer Center

Kerlyne Jean-Baptiste ’16 runs the Wynn Project, a fashion show that aims to deconstruct traditional runway body types and create a space for inclusion. She also works with Students of Caribbean Ancestry, the Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse, the Sexual Assault Policy Task Force, and Generation Citizen.

Q: What venture are you currently working on, and how did it get started?
A: What started as a conversation in the Blue Room with my best friend (Jasmine Bala ’16) about standards of beauty and fashion turned into a full scale venture to celebrate a spectrum of body types, shades of Brown, and backgrounds in a space that doesn’t actively incorporate that in their purpose. The Wynn Project Fashion Show has become my “baby” in the past month and I’ve become enamored with the idea of expanding it to newer heights in the future. I also LOVE Generation Citizen and can’t imagine how I didn’t hear about it or join my freshman year! It’s been an incredible learning experience to go into a high school classroom and actively engage students to create a change in their communities.

Q: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned since starting your venture?
A: It’s really amazing how my involvement in changemaking is a fruition of my thoughts, concerns and passions; but I think the most important lesson I’ve learned (and am still learning) is that my growth in “consciousness” doesn’t stop with a venture or official title. A challenge I’ve definitely faced at Brown is articulating those thoughts to an audience of people who haven’t shared the same experiences as mine.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to any college student thinking of becoming a “changemaker”?
A: You don’t have to be in a history book to be regarded as a changemaker! If you want to identify with that title, start with something you’re passionate about and just run with it and see what happens. What do you have to lose? You’re 20 years old!

Q: What is your personal mission statement?
A: Be on your guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. Do everything in love.

Q: What’s one surprising fact people might not know about you?
A: I am the proud owner of a “Killa Cam’Ron” Jersey, commemorating the impact that the Dipset collective had on rap and hip-hop culture.

If you know a Brown student or alum who is making a difference on campus, in Providence, or around the world, nominate them here to see them featured as Changemaker of the Week.