Meet Malineski Russell
Malineski Russell, a junior child psychology major with a minor in early childhood education and development, comes from a large extended family in Trenton, Tennessee, and loves to go home, often taking some of his fraternity brothers with him, to enjoy home-cooked meals prepared by his mother and aunts. On campus, he is a Preview and Orientation Leader and serves as president of both the ETSU chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. and the National Pan-Hellenic Council. Russell plans to graduate in spring 2019 and enter graduate school before becoming a counselor, perhaps in a school system or private practice. He is gaining valuable experience toward his future career by working with children in ETSU’s Child Study Center.
Q: What led you all the way from Trenton, in West Tennessee, to ETSU, and what has that change been like for you?
A: Coming in, I was a dental hygiene major, and ETSU had the best dental hygiene program, in my eyes. But things happen, and I ended up changing my major to child psychology. ETSU had a lot to offer for me, as far as being active on campus and my relationship with my professors, and it made me want to stay here and leave my mark, which I hope I am doing.
It was a big change. I’m a “mama’s boy,” without a doubt! I love my mom to death, and with her not being here, I’m like, “What am I supposed to do?” I’m a first-generation college student, so everything I do, I do for my mom, or my brother. I’m a family-oriented person. They push me to be greater every day. They call me, asking to make sure, “Are you doing your homework?” “Are you taking care of yourself?” “What can I help you with?” They’re my rock. They’re the reason I’m here, to make sure I get this degree and help them out as much as I can.
Also, with me being active here on campus, not having relatives here in the same city with me, my fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., and sister sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., make sure I’m good. A lot of them know who a good doctor is, or a good mechanic if I need one. When I first came here, Phi Beta Sigma helped me move in and checked on me afterward. They were like brothers before I had even shown interest in the organization. They are my rock, as well.
Q: What inspires and motivates you as a student leader?
A: Coming here, with this being a predominantly white institution, one word that always sticks with me is “retention.” Dr. Brian Noland, Dr. Jeff Howard and Dr. Joe Sherlin (ETSU’s president and Student Affairs administrators) all say the word “retention” a lot and try to keep African American students here. One thing I like to do is open up and be a mentor to students, and let them know they’re not here alone. We’re all here to strive toward the same goal. I currently mentor around four or five freshmen and make sure they’re good. If they don’t have a car, I have a car, so we go to the grocery store or the mall together.
I also like to give tours around campus. If there are African American students interested in coming to this university and want someone they can relate to, I can help them know what to expect when they come to college. Sometimes they’re first-generation, or they’re stepping out on faith, thinking, “College isn’t for me, but I’m going to give this a try.” I just show them around campus and let them know about all the different activities they can get involved with. I just want to be that positive light that I would like to see for all students on campus.
Q: What are your objectives as a leader in Greek Life?
A: I just make sure we have community service, because giving back is one of our main priorities, whether it’s in the community or on ETSU’s campus. I just want to show the light of each organization and how much we do on our university’s campus, how we go out into the community. Yes, we like to stroll and step and things like that, but we also want to make sure we’re giving back and our grades are where they’re supposed to be, and just being that light for students. And being president of both organizations has really helped show my leadership skills, as well. I see Greek Life at ETSU as being one of my great accomplishments so far, as far as my leadership roles and the programs that we have planned.
Q: What led you to choose child psychology as your major?
A: Growing up, I was always around children, and always had a love for children, with
14 brothers and sisters on my grandmother’s side. A Bible verse that has always stuck
with me is “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not
depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). The way that you raise children is the way that
they’re going to grow up, and if I can be that light for at least one child, and show
this is what you should do in day-to-day life – the morals and the goals you should
have – and if I can bring that light to a child in my career, then I’ll know I’ve
done something good. A lot of children don’t have male figures in their lives, especially
African Americans, so if I can do that for a child in my career – be able to talk
through things if they have problems or are sad or angry and figure out how to overcome
those problems – I’m really looking forward to my future with my degree.