Marlon Bailey Isn’t About to Slow Down
Marlon Bailey doesn’t plan to retire. Ever.
Marlon grew up in Jamaica and says he caught the political bug from his mom, Ruby. “She was what you call here a district leader, for the Jamaica Labor Party. She believed that the government must protect and make conditions better for its citizens, she was very outspoken about it. Our family was complicated, some supported the opposition People’s National Party, so there were some pretty lively conversations. But politics never interfered with our family relationships. Love and loyalty always came first.”
Marlon moved to New York City nearly 30 years ago and has lived here ever since. He has worn a number of professional hats, and eventually decided he wanted to become a teacher. That’s when he got involved with The Murphy Institute’s Worker Education Program at Queens College.
“It’s a great program. I was mentored by Joanne Mason, Iris Delutro and Francine Sanchez. They gave me the advice and encouragement I needed to get back on the education wagon. If I hadn’t met them, I might not be where I am now.” He added, “Francine and Carol [Schwartz] helped me choose classes that would help me focus on my major. But I am kind of stubborn and sometimes I wanted to follow my own plans, wherever they led. They explained that there is a process, there is a journey, you have to finish one thing before you can do another.”
The Workers Ed program provided Marlon with a lot of preparation for his college work. “I took a writing class from Professor Blackburn that really helped improve my writing. I brushed up on my grammar and punctuation. I learned how to use random questions to formulate a good story plot. They have some really intense and beneficial courses.” He added, “If a student is having trouble finding their path, the Workers Ed program can help. They’ll work with you to make sure you graduate on time with the degree you want.”
Ultimately Marlon decided to change course from teaching and moved into political science to learn how to advocate for people. “My experiences in the public education system convinced me that it needed fixing. I joined the EWS (Evening Student Weekend) Club at Queens and I started lobbying for extended library hours and tutors for weekend students like me. I got my B.A. in Political Science in 2021 and then I enrolled in the M.A. program in Urban Studies at SLU. That’s when I got involved in student government. I did a campaign video about food insecurity on college campuses. I felt pretty sure that some SLU students were facing similar challenges, but wouldn’t talk about it.”
Marlon got elected to the Student Union and as a result of his and other representatives’ efforts, a food pantry is being established at SLU.
Marlon also serves as SLU’s graduate delegate to the City University Student Senate (USS). “I’m the Jimmy Carter of the University’s student elections committee,” he grinned. “We run all the elections.”
He also sits on the USS legislative committee. In April, Marlon and fellow Student Union representative Tania Caldwell, SLU’s undergraduate USS delegate, both attended a caucus in Albany along with SLU Founding Dean Gregory Mantsios, in support of SLU’s funding in Governor Hochul’s Executive Budget.
As if he weren’t busy enough, Marlon was chosen this year to participate in CUNY’s Ernesto Malave Leadership Academy, which develops students’ leadership skills through experiential civic engagement and advocacy activities. Marlon participated in a Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge along with international students from the U.S., Iraq and Jordan, charged with developing sustainable business solutions to address world poverty and hunger, and improve global health and education. “This experience highlighted for me the importance of working with people from other countries to solve the issues and problems facing the world, not just in this project but going forward in my life journey,” said Marlon. “As a result, I have now joined the International Exchange Alumni network, which is run by the U.S. Department of State, so that I can continue to foster those connections.”
Marlon expects to finish his Master’s degree in Urban Studies at the end of the Fall 2022 semester. And what them? Not surprisingly, Marlon is considering a number of options. “I want to focus on advocating for changes in the law, particularly laws that affect education. I’m studying for the LSAT and may go to law school to study human rights law. I might form a non-profit organization that focuses on public interests. I’m also thinking seriously of running for political office, to be a voice for the under-represented.”
“One way or another,” Marlon said, “I’m going to make a difference.”