Jeremiah Wilkins '16
Junior business and economics-finance major from St. Louis, Mo.
2015 MLK Humanitarian Award recipient
Chapter president and founding member, Phi Beta Sigma fraternity
Former President, BMcK (Black Men of McKendree)
Resident Assistant, Perryman Street apartments
Linebacker, Bearcats football team
Jeremiah Wilkins '16 will leave his legacy at McKendree University as the first president and founding
member of Phi Beta Sigma, a new fraternity forming on campus. The social/service collegiate
and professional fraternity originated at Howard University in Washington, D.C., in
1914 by three African-American male students and nine other charter members. Its motto
is “Brotherhood, scholarship and service.”
“We mentor young men from the St. Louis metro region to the Lebanon area, to teach them about life issues,” Jeremiah explained. “The brothers and I try to be positive male role models because a lot of the young men we mentor lack positive, tangible male influence. We go into classrooms, read books in the elementary schools, work with high school students. Some of it I do on my own.”
“I do it in the name of Sigma. I represent it, it represents me.”
He joined the fraternity in 2013 while attending the University of Tennessee-Martin.
“As a neophyte, you put a lot of love and energy toward it when you have just become
a member. I was prepared to do work for it,” Jeremiah said. When he transferred to
McKendree later that year, he saw an opportunity to make a lasting impact.
“I’m able to do something historic here by bringing the first historically black fraternity to campus,” he said. “The guys that become Sigmas at this university will know who I am and they’ll remember my name.”
Jeremiah draws strength and encouragement from his family, especially older brother Rayburn “Ray Ray” Wilkins, Jr. “I am the person I am today because of my support system. That’s why I take the fraternity so seriously. I’ve always had someone in my corner cheering me on. My family are my biggest fans and my biggest critics.”
The economics and finance major, who is studying to become a financial advisor, was taught by his brother to “approach everything in life as a business decision.” It was Rayburn who urged him to transfer to McKendree as a scholar-athlete and play football for the Bearcats.
"McKendree gave me an opportunity, academically and athletically, to excel.”
Recently he was one of two students to receive the university’s 2015 Humanitarian
Award. Given to those who demonstrate increased understanding, tolerance, and humanitarian
principles and ideals, it is presented in January during an event that honors the
spirit and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King.
Learn more about McKendree University.