News & Features, October 2018

After four years here, she’s glad she resisted the lure of a big city

De’Jah Jenkins admits that Saint Augustine’s University was not her first choice. The senior from Richmond, VA, wanted to go to college in a big city and had her eye on either Seattle, Washington or New York City. But her aunt Sharon Griffin, who is Saint Augustine’s assistant director of financial aid, convinced her to stay a little closer to home.

Now, she is glad she did. “I was welcomed by a lot of people and loved the vibe,” she said.

The visual arts major admitted that her freshman year was difficult, but she said she got through it. One of the ways she has adjusted to Saint Augustine’s is by getting involved with various organizations. Ms. Jenkins joined six organizations at some point during her four years, but decided to focus on three: Delta Sigma Theta, Peer Educators, and Peer Mentors.

Jenkins also has been happy with the visual arts program.  She began drawing in elementary school but did not take it seriously at first. In middle school, she began to sketch and paint, and that’s when she began to have a passion for art. “When I learned how to paint, I could not put the paint brush down,” she said. “Art is my life, and it is everything to me.”

Jenkins has developed her own brand – Creativ Xpression. She uses the brand not only for her paintings but also for the line of clothing she is developing.

The Saint Augustine’s community was recently treated to Jenkins creativity when she had an exhibit at the Seby Jones Art Gallery.

Her love of art has lead to a strong relationship with Visual Arts Assistant Professor Linda Dallas. “I want to be just as good as her one day,” Jenkins said.  “She is the best advisor I have ever had.”

But she stated that her mother is her number one role model. “She teaches me how to be strong,” Jenkins said. “My work is inspired by strong black females.”

But that doesn’t mean she only loves female artists. In fact, her two favorite artists are men – Jean-Michel Basquiat and Ernie Barnes.

She likes the strong emotions art brings out. “Every piece that I do has a message,” Jenkins said. “Artists have calm faces and you never know what they are thinking or feeling.”

— Jerrica Jefferson