T. LYNNE PIXLE Y
Jernigan, who attended UNC on what is now known as the Morehead-Cain Scholarship, says he was attracted to teaching in inner-city
schools to try to overcome the many educational inequalities he saw during a summer enrichment experience in Houston.
a grade each year until the school had an eighth
grade. Within five years, the school had been
named the state’s No. 1 “no-excuses” school by
the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.
The success of KIPP WAYS, as well as the
other four KIPP academies in Atlanta, is due in
part to KIPP philosophy, but observers say it
also has a lot to do with Jernigan — his work
ethic, his leadership skills and his commitment
to helping underprivileged kids.
“There is no stone unturned with David,”
Jones said. “He’s very detail-oriented, very much
a taskmaster and, at the same time, he’s probably
one of the nicest people I’ve met. He will do
anything for you.”
Running a business and a school
Jernigan’s dedication to working with inner-city youth can be traced to what is now known
as the Morehead-Cain Scholarship he received
to attend UNC and the summer between his
freshman and sophomore years when, as a part
of the scholarship’s summer enrichment experience, he spent several weeks teaching science to
inner-city middle school students in Houston.
“It opened my eyes to the educational
inequalities that exist in our country,” he said.
David Jernigan ’00 was a busy man in
college. He worked at UNC Student Stores
and with the Chapel Hill Teen Center; he volunteered as a tutor with the Durham Scholars
Program; and, of course, he went to class.
But he probably spent most of his time on
a single endeavor: the Residence Hall
Association. He started out as a floor representative in Morrison his freshman year, was governor of Morrison his sophomore year and
was president of the RHA his junior year.
“It was a powerful learning experience for
me,” he said, emphasizing the responsibility of
managing a $300,000 budget while keeping
up with his junior-year workload as a business
major. “I learned a ton about managing time.”
Jernigan, who got a lot of attention for
doing walk-throughs of every room in every
dorm, said he spent a lot of time lobbying for
physical improvements to dorms.
Many of them, including Morrison, he said,
“were kind of falling apart.”
This was 1998-99, the same year that Emily
Williamson ’ 99 — then student body vice
president — launched a crusade to allow
female residents in Old East and Old West, both
of which were all-male dorms. (Williamson is
a 2009 recipient of the GAA’s Distinguished
Young Alumni Award and a current member
of the GAA Board of Directors.)
Jernigan ultimately joined forces with
Williamson, but he said it was a difficult decision. “At the time, I wasn’t sure I wanted to
have a lot to do with it,” he said. “They were the
first dorms on Carolina’s campus, and historically females were never allowed to stay in
them. It became very controversial.
“I was not the most popular male on cam-
Not the Most Popular Man on Campus
SARAH MCCARTY ARNESON ’ 96
As president of the Residence Hall Association,
David Jernigan ’00 led an effort to allow
female residents in Old East and Old West,
which had been all male.
pus at the time” he said.
But he and Williamson were victorious. In
the fall of 2000, Old West and Old East
became co-ed dorms.
— Lucy Hood ’ 80