Diversity and Community Engagement

The University of Mississippi

Posts Tagged ‘Jilkiah Bryant’

OCE Agency Profile – Operation Fit Nation

Posted on: October 19th, 2020 by elpayseu

By Jilkiah Bryant, OCE Area Coordinator for Health & Wellness

Mississippi is among the top states in the nation when it comes to health issues such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, but local nonprofit Operation FitNation is fighting to change that by advocating for optimal community health throughout Mississippi. 

Founded and operated by Lawrence Muruako in 2008, Operation FitNation stems from a passion for impact through the celebration of life in those communities that need it most. “At some point, I had to ask myself, what about the people who cannot afford to pay for a gym membership or pay for a personal trainer?” says Lawrence on starting the organization. “I wanted to affect those people and impact their lives, I wanted to empower them.” 

Their mission is to help create a standard of great health in poverty-stricken and poor health communities by harnessing the power of healthier behavior. Operation FitNation sets out to improve people’s health by inspiring them to become the best version of themselves.

Operation FitNation provides wellness resources, opportunities, and wellness education programs to individuals of at-risk populations while creating a fun-loving experience. “There’s a huge need for healthy living,” Lawrence says. “This opportunity hasn’t changed my perspective, it has enhanced my perspective and approach to what it means to serve others and these communities.” 

Programs like their FIT Camps, Healthy Halloween, Fit Carnival, and the Right Track program engage and educate kids through a fitness-based social experience. They deliver community wellness events, media campaigns, and a multitude of online resources and also partner with local organizations, businesses, and individuals that support and are passionate about community wellness. 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Operation FitNation has started a new program, Operation One Miler, to continue motivating communities to engage in healthy behavior. Having already held events in Lafayette, Panola, and Tallahatchie counties, Operation FitNation plans to continue extending their impact to Marshall, Desoto, Quitman, Coahoma, and Yalobusha counties in the future.


Jilkiah Bryant

Jilkiah Bryant

For more information about Operation FitNation, or if you are interested in getting involved, you can email them at operationfitnation@gmail.com or visit their website https://www.operationfitnation.org/

Meet Jilkiah Bryant – OCE Area Coordinator for Health & Wellbeing

Posted on: September 10th, 2020 by elpayseu
Jilkiah Bryant Headshot

Jilkiah Bryant

“My name is Jilkiah Bryant and I am a native of Macon, Mississippi. Currently, I am a second year student at the University of Mississippi majoring in Public Health and Health Sciences with minors in math, disaster science, and chemistry, and something new I have just learned is functional groups for my organic chemistry class. If I could have any super power, it would definitely be regeneration or teleportation!

The best part of the LOU community to me is that this community possesses momentous areas of support and service initiatives. The LOU community is unified in every effort to help encourage the growth and development of this area. As a student whose passion lies within service and has suffered at the hands of racial and economic disadvantages, my passion for community engagement is a direct testament of my personal experiences as a low-income student of color. I am always looking to serve and provide opportunities for others to serve because I know the struggles of having a lack of participation and presence within my own community.

My issue area is vulnerable populations and health and wellbeing which are issues not uncommon to Mississippi.  Mississippi is among the top states in the nation with the highest rates of poverty and income inequality with little to no improvement seen within the last few years. As I grew older, I began to notice the intensity of poverty in my state: little access to adequate jobs, poor infrastructure, and an inferior quality of education, and I struggled to imagine a solution that could combat the difficulties Mississippi faced in my own way. One of my greatest achievements was the start of my own nonprofit organization, Project Powerful, where I have been able to create a sense of urgency among community leaders and other organizations to make meaningful impacts in the areas that matter most. Community engagement is something that is so important to me personally, especially after this past year.

I was fortunate enough to have worked and will continue to work as a CEED Innovation Scholar for the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement. Here, I began to think deeper about what community engagement and service was. I gained multiple opportunities to learn about the importance of communities, how to work to support their efforts in place, and not to rewrite who they are and what that community stands for. I’ve gained experience that changed my perspective on what community engagement is and how to effectively practice engagement, and I hope to bring this experience to my position in the Office of Community Engagement.”


This semester, Jilkiah will be working with local organizations such as CASA of Lafayette County, Communicare, Family Crisis Services, and many others to help advance their missions and protect the vulnerable populations of our community. You can get in touch with Jilkiah by emailing engaged@olemiss.edu.