In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Bennett College and did an interview with Ebony Duell the Student Government Association president.
The position of SGA president of a is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Duell, who is majoring in Journalism and Media Studies, is a current senior and a Spring 2019 initiate of Alpha Kappa Alpha.
We interviewed Duell, and talked to her about her position, goals, future and what it means to hold this type of leadership position in 2020.
Read the full interview below.
What is the biggest thing you’ve learned as an SGA president so far?
The biggest thing I’ve learned as SGA president is time management skills and how to balance being a student leader, full time student, and my mental health. During my senior year not only did I serve as Student Body President but I also held a position in my chapter, worked part time, and had an internship. I had to learn to make sure I had a schedule and I could sometimes multi-task. I believe the time management skills I learned from my role as SGA president have prepared me for a career where I’ll always have deadlines and a full schedule.
What made you decide to attend Bennett College for undergrad?
I decided to attend Bennett College because everything about the college just felt so right. I initially visited Bennett in spring 2016 for open house and after a day of talking to the then current Bennett Belles I felt at home. The girls I met instantly became like big sisters to me and even once I left campus that day they stayed in contact with me. A lot of people “Bennett chooses you” and I believe that is true . I had a whole list of schools I was supposed to visit and Bennett was my first stop. I told my parents I wanted to attend Bennett after the first visit, I didn’t have to see any other schools because I knew that I belonged at Bennett College. It was something about the tradition, small campus, and the “sisterhood” that made me want to be there.
How has Bennett College molded you into the person you are today?
I owe Bennett College a huge thank you for molding me into the woman I am today. Prior to Bennett College I was shy and stuck to myself a lot.When I arrived at Bennett I quickly realized that in the journalism and media studies department I would have to speak up, the other girls in my department were so outspoken. My Bennett sisters helped me gain the confidence I lacked and encourage me to branch out on campus. At Bennett every student is encouraged to be a leader in some format whether big or small. I also think my professors made a difference too, they helped me learn outside of the classroom and helped me network with a lot of professionals. I can say I’m leaving Bennett College a better person than who I was before, I’ve grown and found myself. Bennett College has made me the leader I am today.
What specific initiatives have you headed up this year and how do you think they will improve the school and surrounding community?
When I first decided to run for SGA president a huge goal of mine was to see Belles feel more comfortable on campus with student leadership and administration. I wanted Belles to feel as though they could be themselves and feel free to come to student leaders and administration when there was anything they wanted to address. This school year I’ve had the chance to see more girls starting organizations they specifically wanted to see on campus. I also was able to see more students build relationships with student leadership as well as administration. Administration and faculty did a great job this year with keeping open dialogue with students about every situation.
How is your school currently responding to the coronavirus and what is your SGA administration doing to help students?
Currently the college has moved to remote classes, closing the campus for the remainder of the school year. The school has helped students with housing, transportation, and adjusting to online classes. The academic calendar has been extended by a week and graduation was moved to May 9th. Most school events have been postponed or made virtual. As SGA we knew it was our job to keep students informed about Covid-19 and what all was going to happen moving forward. We know it’s our job to continue to keep students uplifted . As a SGA president I scheduled a zoom student body meeting and senior class meeting. The students were able to talk to administration and faculty about their concerns with moving to remote classes. We were also able to come to the agreement to postpone graduation instead of canceling the ceremony.
How is the coronavirus affecting SGA elections for next year?
SGA elections were supposed to be this semester in April and campaigning was supposed to start the week that the campus had to close due to Covid-19. As of now there has been no updates on elections for next school year.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership to me is the dedication to put other before yourself. Being a leader is not about the tittle and people on your campus knowing your name. Being a leader to me means having integrity, a leader stands out from the pack not because they want to be seen but because their an example for others. Leadership is leading even when behind close doors. A leader is the last one to go to bed and the first one up. Leadership is being there for those on your campus no matter what. A leader is selfless.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think schools need to do to represent themselves online in 2020?
I believe schools will now have to have a stronger social media presences when it comes to representing themselves online. Unfortunately right now there can’t be any type of social gathering so that means open houses and school tours won’t be able to attract students to the school. This means admissions will have to look for other ways to reach those prospective students. I also think schools will have to update their technology in order to connect with the current students, websites will have to be updated and school emails.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black students and college culture?
Watch The Yard and other platforms like it are important because it shows a positive representation of a Black college student and the culture. Often Black young people aren’t represented in the best light on various platforms but I can appreciate Watch The Yard for showing a different prospective. Watch The Yard also allow students to connect with each other and network through their page.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
After graduation I hope to be working as a production assistant and one day becoming a news producer at a local station. I also am looking for opportunities as a digital content producer.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Ebony Duell for her work as the SGA president of Bennett College.