Meet a new Tar Heel: Chris Suggs

Service has been a hallmark of Chris Suggs’ teenage years in his hometown of Kinston, North Carolina. Now the incoming first-year student is ready to bring that same spirit of service to campus this fall.

“There have been good times and challenging times. But 2014 was the most challenging year that Kinston faced in my lifetime, I feel like,” Suggs said. “Seeing firsthand the effects of poverty and to hear gunshots… by October I was like, ‘Enough is enough’.”

That month, Suggs launched the nonprofit Kinston Teens, with a mission to empower young people through a strengthened community and civic engagement.

“This isn’t just an after-school program or a club that you meet once a month with,” he explained. “We are connecting teens in Kinston with their city council members – even using SnapChat. We want young people to get involved in leading this organization and leading our community.”

According to city leaders, the group has been a force in leading recent, evident change in Kinston.

“Overall crime is down in our community the last several years- violent crime as well as juvenile crime,” said mayor BJ Murphy. “The Kinston Teens organization has been such a help. The state of North Carolina benefits from someone like Chris being in our state, who has a passion to serve our state and the local community.”

Video and story by Carly Swain, University Communications.
Published Aug. 14, 2017.