Lyn-Tise Jones, a 25-year-old native of the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood, was the mistress of ceremonies at the recent Maisin Scholar Award Alumni Reunion. The Maisin Scholars program provides financial support to San Francisco students in underprivileged neighborhoods. Jones graduated from Fisk University with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication and sociology and now attends St. Mary’s College in Moraga.
As a two-time Maisin Scholar Award recipient, how was it being the mistress of ceremonies at the alumni reunion?
I was really honored to be the mistress of ceremonies. What they do for underprivileged youth is simply dynamic and one-of-a-kind. That evening we had a lot of students with a lot of ambition and high hope, yet they lack the financial resources. So if I could in any way be a participant in making sure underprivileged youth can go to college, I’m all for it.
Tell us about receiving your first award in 2003.
I was 17 when I received my first Maisin Scholar Award. While I was in high school, I didn’t have very good grades. They choose kids who are surviving. I was helping raise my three little brothers when I was working and in high school. So making good grades was one of the things that I wanted to do, but it wasn’t very high on my priority list. But I wanted to make a change and go to college. They invested in me.
What does that mean to you, being that you are from the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood?
I feel very honored, blessed, and fortunate to be one of those persons who made it out of the Bayview-Hunters Point community. I lost a lot of friends along the way and I know a lot of people who did not make it to where I am today. I also feel compelled to do something. I go by this scripture: “To whom much is given, much is required.”
You were a victim of a stray bullet while growing up in the Bayview. What was that like?
I was shot when I was about 8 years old and I was simply lying in my bed. Someone was shooting outside my house and I was sleeping. It’s one of those very unfortunate events that happened just by being a product of that community.
Your brother Leonard was shot to death a few years ago and you created a scholarship in his memory. Can you elaborate on that?
About my brother, it’s a sensitive subject. My family and I were able to create the Leonard Second Chance Scholarship fund because my brother was killed in 2009 by the [San Pablo] police. It’s really terrible because you always see this stuff happening on TV. But when it hits your home, it’s something totally different. ... I’m going back into the community and saying don’t give a police officer or any person on the street any extra incentive to possibly end your life.
What are your long-term goals?
I have two long-term goals. The first is to open my own nonprofit called Survival 101. When things aren’t going your way, how do you make a way out of no way? The second part is that I want to create a television show that can give these urban communities a platform to speak about the things that they are going through. I don’t know exactly how I’m going to do that.