Friday Fellow of the Month: Shoneca Kent
Tuesday, April 9, 2019
“Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?’” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Shoneca E. Kent is the Community and Rural Development Agent at North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s Edgecombe County office in Tarboro, North Carolina. As a Community and Rural Development Agent, Shoneca focuses on building the capacity of communities by providing Edgecombe County residents with information that helps them reach community and economic goals to improve Edgecombe County’s quality of life.
Shoneca grew up in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, in the Edgecombe County area of the city. Since Rocky Mount is located in both Edgecombe and Nash Counties, one must state the county they are from. Throughout her formative teenage years in Rocky Mount, Shoneca committed herself to the community and actively volunteered for several community organizations and community causes. After graduating from Rocky Mount High School, she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology and a minor in Social and Economic Justice from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Shoneca continued to perform community service throughout college, including serving as an afterschool tutor and mentor to middle school students. It was not until she took a community organizing class in college that she saw a continued future in community and public service.
After graduating during the peak of the Great Recession, Shoneca was able to work in community and economic development, where most of her work focused on Rocky Mount-Edgecombe County-Nash County projects. She served as a Core Team Leader of the Twin Counties Visioning and Strategic Planning Process, where she led community engagement efforts to ensure Edgecombe County residents’ voices were heard and documented.
As part of her current role at North Carolina Cooperative Extension, she continues to serve the people of Rocky Mount and Edgecombe County. Shoneca serves as the staff liaison to the Edgecombe County Human Relations Commission, which facilitates the prevention and resolution of problems affecting human relations of citizens residing, working, or trading in Edgecombe County. As the liaison, Shoneca has supported the commission in its various community meetings where Edgecombe County residents are offered the opportunity to voice their pride and concerns of the community and work with the Commission to create viable solutions.
She also serves on the board of Conetoe Family Life Center, a nonprofit organization with the goal of changing the poverty cycle in families by improving the resources available to families, specifically children. The organization is focused on being community-led while serving Conetoe, a small town of 300 residents in Edgecombe County. Its Board Chair and founder, Reverend Richard Joyner, was named a 2016 CNN Hero. She also continues to be active in Democracy North Carolina’s local coalition and promotes voter education and voter registration.
Shoneca’s leadership training has included completing the North Carolina Association of Community Development Corporations’ 110-hour Community and Economic Development (CED) Studies training course, the Center for Community Learning’s Innovative Leadership training, and several racial equity trainings. During the CED Studies course, she developed a community engagement plan for transforming residential green energy for better local economies.
After several years of living in Raleigh, Shoneca and her husband made a community and economic investment by moving back to Rocky Mount, a small city in Northeastern North Carolina surrounded by several economically depressed, rural counties. She wants to give back to her community by being in the community she is fortunate to serve. It does not hurt that she is closer to her family, a big part of her personal community. She and her husband share a young son.
Each month a Friday Fellow from the 2017-2019 class is offered the opportunity to share more about their community, their journey, and their life. Find previous monthly features in our news archives here.