Student Lonnie Lewis modernizes The Equinox
By Rebecca Maxon
Adult learner, first-generation college student, military veteran, husband and digital communicator Lonnie Lewis, Jr., is infusing the Metropolitan Campus student newspaper, The Equinox, with new life.
He’s using all those experiences to propel him to academic and extracurricular success.
Although he felt welcome on campus from the day he began his studies, it’s Lewis’ work for The Equinox that has helped him “bridge the generational gap between me and traditional-aged students. Music, food and sports are all things that level the playing field when I’m dealing with either younger or older generations.”
The campus and The Equinox organization “have a way of embracing who you are and where you come from, and of nurturing your skills.”
His 10-year career in the Army — ending in 2012 after three tours in the Middle East — taught him macro- and micro-leadership skills.
After leaving the service, Lewis found it not only difficult to adjust to civilian life, but also to leave behind the “safety-net” of living near base.
He developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which led him to seek talk therapy and to get involved with an organization that focuses on reactive attachment disorders (difficulty in dealing with complex emotions) as well as on building healthy relationships.
“I’ve also tried cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy as well,” he says. “The strongest medicine to help anyone deal with PTSD is strong relationships, daily routines for school or work, a real connection with nature and a balance among spiritual, physical and mental health.”
He moved to Missouri, to Virginia and back to the tri-state area. One day, he wound up jogging through FDU’s Metropolitan Campus. Lewis says, “I saw the Martin Luther King, Jr., statue by the footbridge.” It gave him pause, and then and there he decided, “This is what I should be doing, studying here.”
Initially a psychology major, he later changed course to study communication. He says, “I have repurposed my military skills to be a more effective communicator. I have developed a communication style that welcomes anyone from anywhere, due to the many settings I have found myself in. Now I have found my voice.”
And that voice is broadcast to the University community through The Equinox. Guided by faculty adviser Mo Krochmal, the paper is becoming a multimedia platform known as “edot The Equinox.” Lewis serves as co-editor-in-chief along with Mia Elias, a senior psychology major.
“The Equinox can no longer function as just a school newspaper,” as past digital incarnations have tried to do, says Lewis. “We are an incubator and hope to prepare students for the changing workplace and help them stretch their boundaries.”
Krochmal has been a good mentor to Lewis. “Mentors [in the field] help you keep your journalistic integrity,” Lewis says.
On the updated website, fduequinox.com, readers will find a blend of news, features, profiles and other stories, and soon a podcast, “Earthlings.” Editorial content is promoted on the site’s social media accounts as well.
Through his involvement with The Equinox, Lewis has learned to “listen more than speak”; that “it takes more than one person to get things done”; and to trust more. “I’m having fun again with what I am doing: telling stories,” Lewis says.
“We are building a sense of community and collaboration,” he says. “And, we want more students to come in.”
Interested students can email The Equinox for more information.