Student earns second term as Key Club district governor
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 4, 2011 1:46 PM
Brinson Mitchell, a junior at Wayne Early/Middle College High School, was recently re-elected to a second term as governor for the Carolinas District for Key Club, an international high school service organization.
Brinson Mitchell's first association with Key Club was based upon curiosity.
"I just decided to check it out with my friends," the Wayne Early/Middle College High School junior said.
That was three years ago, when the school first introduced the club, affiliated with the Kiwanis Club community organization and Circle K at the college level. Key Club is the oldest and largest high school service organization in the world, he said.
"A lot of high school students do it because it looks good for their college (applications)," he said, admitting that might have been one of his own initial motivations. "Everyone says they only join it to make themselves look good but it changes within a month.
"After they see that people in our world and even Wayne County don't have it as well as they do, it really changes the perspective whether they like it or not."
Mitchell had only been a charter member for about a month when he learned more about some of the leadership opportunities it offered.
At the district convention, he decided to run for lieutenant governor, one of 36 spots on the district board. He won, spending his yearlong term responsible for six schools in the Outer Banks area.
"After a year, I decided I wanted to take leadership to the next level, and run for governor," he said. "It was very unusual for a junior to run for governor because I was only 15 at the time when I won."
He has not lost any momentum, recently attending the district convention in Durham, where he was re-elected as Carolinas District Governor, covering North and South Carolina. There are 33 developed districts in the world, encompassing 11,000 members and 235 high schools, making his role as one of 33 governors all the more impressive.
The club at WEMCH boasts about 90 members. Mitchell also visits other local clubs -- Goldsboro, Eastern Wayne and Charles B. Aycock high schools also have chapters -- and works closely with Goldsboro Kiwanis.
The premise of the club is community service and service projects, which Mitchell said provides an insight into ways young people can contribute to their community and world at large.
"I just liked having the feeling that I did something better, was kind of making a difference," he said. "Even though I wasn't doing things like solving world hunger, for the little things, when they added up, they really made a difference."
Mitchell said he has never been the "quiet one" in school but still marvels at what serving in a leadership role has taught him. From public speaking opportunities and time management to self-discipline and delegating responsibility, he has learned much since taking the reins of the club.
"There's a lot of leadership development -- how to dress professionally, how to interview, how to do public speaking, what a job entails, how to train officers," he said. "I feel like ever since I have done this, I don't know, it's kind of weird to explain, I have really figured out who I am. I have seen my hard work put to use. It just makes me feel good that I have done something better than myself."
At the recent district convention, his club made an impressive showing, earning a stack of awards that included first place for club digital poster, non-traditional scrapbook award, major emphasis program, Kiwanis family relations, and Diamond Award, the highest award a club can receive; second place for single service; and an award of excellence, unique to the Carolinas District, for donating money to the Boys & Girls Home in Lake Waccamaw.
The club's adviser, Kim McCarthur-Dudley, was also named outstanding faculty adviser.
Mitchell was able to select and present two Governor's awards. He gave one to an administrator who lives in Greenville, the other to Mrs. Dudley, "because I wouldn't be where I am today without her."
His next big event will be the international convention, held in Arizona in late June, where he will be in the running for an "outstanding governor" award based on a point system.
When he is not working on Key Club business, Mitchell is also involved in Take 3, a Christian club at his school, and enjoys spending time with his friends, playing tennis and traveling.
School, though, comes first. He has been accepted into the honors college program at Wayne Community College and by the time he graduates from Wayne Early/Middle in the spring of 2012, he will also have a two-year associate of arts degree. He would like to attend UNC-Chapel and has already checked out their Circle K club.
"I'm really thinking about something in health care," he said of his career aspirations. "I'm either thinking about becoming a physicians assistant or a nurse anesthetist."
Reflecting on his unanticipated rise through the ranks of the Key Club, the 16-year-old said he has appreciated all the opportunities he has been given, and looks forward to future ones.
"I feel that because I did come into this so young I kind of challenged myself, I set the bar higher for myself and of course my administrators and those working with me made me set it higher," he said. "You overcome the odds of being one of the youngest -- my administrator has worked with 19 governors and I'm the first one that's a junior -- and even though I ran unopposed, I ran the same way as if I had an opponent, I campaigned and gave a speech."
He also realizes that, like any leader, success is contingent upon others following and lending support.
"All 36 of my first lieutenant governors are my friends, and I want to leave them with something that they couldn't get anywhere else," he said.