DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Blue Demon Spotlight > Faith drives Minister Jené to support marginalized students

Faith drives Minister Jené to support marginalized students

Minister Jené Ashley Colvin
Minister Jené Ashley Colvin is the ministry coordinator for Christian and interfaith engagement in DePaul's Mission and Ministry. (Keeton Holder/DePaul University)
“The thief does not come except to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

For Minister Jené Ashley Colvin​, John 10:10 is a deep tenet of her faith and guides her as she supports DePaul students.

“For me, anytime I see or experience something that isn’t abundantly life giving, it needs to be changed. If I can do something to change it, if I have the imagination or the skill or the drive to change it, then I’m going to do it,” says Colvin, ministry coordinator for Christian and interfaith engagement in Mission and Ministry.

Since joining DePaul full-time in 2019, Colvin has made it her mission to support marginalized students, including Black and queer students. 

“I was hired to make sure certain parts of our student population had direct support from someone who was also part of their communities. This is something important that we do at DePaul,” Colvin says. 

A licensed minister for 15 years, Colvin wants students coming to them to know that they won’t be judged. 

“My door is always open to anyone and everyone,” Colvin says. “If you want to get a juice box out of my office, get a juice box out of my office. If you just want to sit in my office and hide for 30 minutes and have some tea silently, do that. If you need a place to vent, come to me regardless of what you believe. I will not judge you. Because I know what that feels like.” 

In addition to her role on the religious diversity and pastoral care team, Colvin serves as the staff lead for the Sankofa Black Student Formation Program​. The program dives into the diverse aspects of Black identity, empowers Black students to lead and live well and provides skills for the development of spiritual and holistic wellness. 

“Isolation can be really hard for Black students at predominantly white institutions,” Colvin says. “Depending on your major, your schedule, whether you’re a commuter student or graduate student, where and when your classes are, some Black students have told me they can go days without seeing other Black students. That’s why connection opportunities like Sankofa and the Black Cultural Center are so important.” 

Over the years, Colvin has built strong partnerships with Ava Francis, the program manager for the Black Cultural Center, and other staff in Student Affairs. These collaborations are building community and connections across campus. Colvin regularly visits the Black Cultural Center to chat with students, and Sankofa hosts several events in the Black Cultural Center’s space. 

“Minister Jené is incredible and connects with students in a way that not a lot of other people are able to do,” Francis says. “As a partner in supporting Black students, I’m incredibly grateful to learn and work with Minister Jené. They're extremely organized when it comes to the work that they do and have a genuine passion for giving Black students an outlet to feel seen, to feel safe and to feel taken care of.” 

Shaping DePaul’s future with the Black Equity Initiative 

Already driving opportunities and pursuing resources to expand support for Black students at DePaul, Colvin didn’t hesitate to join Designing DePaul’s Black Equity Initiative Committee. The group is committed to transforming the experiences of Black students, faculty and staff on campus. 

“With the Black Equity Initiative, we have the chance to really reimagine what things look like for the future, which I'm really excited about,” Colvin says. 

As a BEI Committee member, Colvin sees opportunities for DePaul to better meet students’ needs and be a strong steward of current and future resources. 

“I'm just one person in a very large network of people who care a whole lot about you getting what you need while you are here. I firmly believe it is possible to thrive, it is possible to be loved and happy, to graduate and do well and be celebrated. Because there are people here who are making sure that happens,” Colvin says.

The Black Equity Initiative is part of Designing DePaul​, a collaborative effort that includes all university partners and communities working together to plan the university’s future. Visit the Designing DePaul website​ for more information on BEI and other key initiatives.

Russell Dorn is a senior manager of media relations in University Communications.