BY COLIN MACDOUGALL
Shayler Barnes Jr. is a recent graduate from Washtenaw Community College. Barnes, a journalism major originally from Inkster, now lives in Ypsilanti. He has been taking classes here at WCC since the Fall of 2011.
“I always wanted to get into journalism,” Barnes said. “At one point, the counselors said it would make more sense as a liberal arts major and changed it. As I came closer to graduation I decided to change it back to journalism.”
At different points in his student career, Barnes jumped between part-time and full-time status. Barnes once took a semester off of WCC to go to Long Island University in New York City. Unfortunately, his financial aid didn’t go through and he had to come back to Ypsilanti. Although Barnes admits sometimes he didn’t have his complete focus on school.
“Sometimes it is hard being a student who is working and living on your own, and I wasn’t the best at balancing things,” Barnes said.
As Barnes continued to grow up, his focus on his schoolwork changed and he began to excel as a student.
Chris Williams has been one of Barnes’ close friends since middle school. Williams is a 22-year-old business student from Belleville who looks to return to WCC this fall.
“Shayler is a strong individual and a natural leader, it just comes easy to him,” Williams said. “He is a person who perseveres through any type of adversity.”
Williams believes Barnes’ qualities come from his father, who was able to defeat prostate cancer. Williams has also seen Barnes go through other family and personal life issues and still focus on his school, while working multiple jobs at the same time.
Shari Robinson-Lynk, a part-time anthropology and continuing education instructor in social work, had Barnes in her cultural anthropology class last semester.
“He is a really genuine and special student,” Robinson-Lynk said. “I find most of the students in the course to be inquisitive, but Shayler took it to another level. He had verbal conversations with me and his classmates around his own belief systems, understandings of people and religion.”
Robinson-Lynk says that Barnes would really dig into why it is he believes that way, but also why he was uncomfortable with some of the subjects that they discussed in class. She knew though that Barnes was not only absorbing the knowledge he learned, but also applying that same knowledge outside the classroom.
“I have several assignments that I call ‘Cultural Show and Tell’… some students are visibly nervous,” said Robinson-Lynk. “Shayler sat in the middle of the class, and would always say encouraging things to the students who went up and he noticed they were nervous.”
Barnes will attend Eastern Michigan University in the fall. He still plans on majoring in journalism. He recently was given the position of the arts and entertainment section editor at EMU’s Echo newspaper.