Growing up, Khari Cyrus ‘16 always thought he would one day become an orthopedic surgeon. While that was his intent as a freshman human biology major entering NC State, it didn’t take long for Cyrus to realize his interests pointed somewhere other than medical school.
“After sitting down with some academic advisors and student mentors, I slowly began to construct an image of what my future might look like,” said Cyrus. “Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to stay involved with health and medicine, but I’d much rather be involved on the policy side of public health.”
“On one hand,” he said, “I believe I am ready to go to law school and get started with that chapter of my life. On the other hand, I also recognize that I could continue to support and develop my interest in science, government, and health policy by working for a member of Congress or a Congressional committee in Washington, D.C.”
Cyrus had a taste of life on Capitol Hill during the summer of 2014, when he interned for former North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan. He cites this as among his most valuable experiences in advancing his academic and professional goals.
“Senator Hagan served on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and I enjoyed being able to work with her staff on public health issues,” he said. “Whether it was drafting memos from committee hearings or legislative briefings, I was able to engage in the process of policy making.”
At NC State, Cyrus has found several outlets for his interests in policy and social justice issues. In addition to his involvement with Student Government, the University Scholars Program, Order of Omega, and the W.E.B. Du Bois Honor Society, Cyrus recently completed his term as president of the Kappa Lambda Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
“I am deeply invested in my fraternity and what it stands for,” said Cyrus. “The role that Black Greek letter organizations have played throughout history in regards to civil rights, women’s rights, and service is monumental. By surrounding myself with like-minded individuals who share the goals of promoting and advocating for the growth and development of minorities, I hope to make a significant impact.”
Cyrus now has an opportunity to effect positive change university-wide, as he will serve as NC State’s 2015-2016 student body president. He and Student Body Vice President Nate Bridgers, both natives of Goldsboro, N.C., campaigned with the slogan “Uniting the Pack” – a phrase that’s at the core of their mission for the coming academic year.
“As student body president, one of my main goals is to try and change the culture of this campus in regards to diversity and inclusion,” Cyrus said “Rather than hosting programs and holding conversations after incidents occur, I want to be proactive with dealing with issues of diversity.”
Another objective of Cyrus’ term in office is to advocate for resources that directly impact student life, such as re-establishment of an on-campus voting location and the restoration of at least one 24-hour library.
“My overall experience at NC State has been amazing,” Cyrus said. “As a student who hails from a relatively small town, coming to State was a pretty significant shift. Overall, I think NC State can feel like home for any student. Whether you want that fast-paced big school experience or that smaller, more intimate experience, NC State has it all.”
Cyrus acknowledges that the Park Scholarships program has been an integral part of his college experience, highlighting his relationships with Park classmates who support one another’s personal growth as the most rewarding aspect of the program.
“One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned over the years is that the pillars of scholarship, leadership, service, and character play a role in every aspect of life,” Cyrus said. “In every action or decision I make, I try to think about how the pillars of the Park program are intertwined with the decision. I really want to make sure I’m living up to these principles in my day-to-day life.”
Cyrus will serve as a facilitator for the Park Class of 2019 freshman retreat. In this role, he will draw from his own experiences when offering advice to the new freshmen.
“The Park program really provides you with all the necessary resources to achieve your goals,” he said. “I think the sooner you start thinking about what impact you’d like to make, the better you will be able to utilize those resources.”
Story by Maressa Gabriel