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Leadership Highlight: Wichita State University’s SGA President Iris Okere

Photo Credit: @gbcvisuals

In an effort to highlight the people who are leading colleges and universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Wichita State University and did an interview with Iris Okere the 2023-2024 Student Government Association president.

The position of SGA president is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes in being elected by their peers to lead. Okere, who is majoring in marketing, is from Dallas. She is a proud Fall 2021 initiate of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

We interviewed Iris Okere, and talked to her about her position, goals, future and what it means to hold this type of leadership position in 2023-2024.

Read the full interview below.

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned as an SGA president so far?

You won’t be able to please everyone. Someone is always going to be mad. You just got to do what is best for the students, and for the future Shockers down the line. They will thank you, later.

What made you decide to attend Wichita State University for undergrad?

When it came time to choose a university for my undergraduate degree, I wanted an experience that would both challenge and enrich me. Coming from Dallas, Texas, I sought opportunities beyond the state borders to foster personal growth and exploration of living in another state. Wichita State University stood out as an ideal choice, offering a combination of affordability and quality education. The generous financial aid package, along with the innovative I35 pipeline program extending in-state tuition to cities along the I35 corridor, made attending Wichita State a practical and appealing option. This commitment to accessibility and affordability, coupled with the university’s academic reputation and diversity, solidified my decision. Choosing Wichita State means I can pursue my academic goals while embarking on a journey of personal intellectual growth.

How has Wichita State University molded you into the person you are today?

My education at WSU has been pivotal, equipping me with not only academic knowledge but also invaluable life skills and experiences. From fostering critical thinking and problem-solving abilities to cultivating lifelong friendships and connections, WSU has provided me with a solid foundation for personal and professional growth. Wichita State, the State of Kansas, and the division of Student Affairs have broadened my perspectives and shaped my values, preparing me to navigate the complexities of the world with confidence, but most importantly compassion. This has been a time in my life that I will cherish forever. I am pursuing my passions of advocacy and making a positive impact in the world.

What specific initiatives have you headed up this year (or are planning) and how do you think they will improve the school and surrounding community?

Our administration has taken proactive steps to enhance student engagement by implementing monthly raffles, aimed at fostering a vibrant social media presence. Recognizing the gaps left by previous administrations, we’ve initiated this strategy to invigorate our online platforms and cultivate stronger connections with our student body. Moreover, we’ve spearheaded the establishment of the ICT Cross Campus Coalition, a pioneering initiative that fosters collaboration among neighboring post-secondary institutions in Wichita. This coalition serves as a platform for comprehensive discussions on local issues impacting higher education. By bringing together all these institutions we aim to address these challenges collectively and drive positive change within our educational community.

Photo Credit: @kynnkaptures

How is your SGA administration/school currently working on attending to the mental health of students?

Our Student Government Association (SGA) are deeply committed to prioritizing the mental health and well-being of our student body. Recognizing the increasing challenges students face, particularly regarding basic needs insecurity and financial stress, we have taken proactive steps to continue these efforts from our predecessors through the Shocker Support Locker Program. The Shocker Support Locker serves as a vital resource hub, providing students with access to essential supplies such as food, toiletries, school supplies, and other basic necessities. By alleviating the burdens associated with basic needs insecurity, we aim to create a more supportive environment where students can focus on their academic success and overall well-being. This initiative is especially crucial in light of the growing prevalence of mental health challenges among college students statewide. Looking ahead, we are committed to expanding and enhancing the Shocker Support Locker Program to better serve the needs of our students. With the anticipated arrival of new facilities in Summer of 2024, we are optimistic about the opportunity to further strengthen our support services and reach even more students in need.

What does leadership mean to you?

To me, leadership means embodying values that inspire and empower others. Its about being a team player, delegating tasks wisely and fostering open communication. A good leader is efficient, prioritizing tasks and resources effectively. They also advocate for others, championing causes and initiatives that align with their organization’s values. Overall, leadership is about inspiring action, fostering collaboration, and making a positive impact on those around you.

We now live in a digital world, what do you think schools need to do to represent themselves online in 2023/2024?

As someone who has experienced the transition to a digital world firsthand, I believe that schools need to prioritize several key areas to effectively represent themselves online in 2023/2024. First and foremost, schools must focus on enhancing their online presence and accessibility. This means creating user-friendly websites and digital platforms that provide easy access to information about programs, admission, events, and resources. Social media presence is huge as well because we live in a society where that is where people are receiving their news. Engaging with followers, creating compelling content, and utilizing targeted advertising to attract and retain students. Digital communication is also very important in the classroom as it is a tool to facilitate seamless interaction between students, faculty, staff, and administration

Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black students and college culture?

Watch The Yard is important to Black Students and college culture because it serves as a platform for celebrating the achievements and contributions of Black Students. It provides a space for Black students to connect, share experiences, and build community across campuses nationwide. Additionally Watch The Yard highlights the cultural heritage and traditions of historically Black colleges and Universities and other institutions like predominantly White Institutions with significant black student populations. Overall, it promotes solidarity, fosters a sense of belonging, and amplifies Black voices and experiences within higher education.

What do you plan on doing after graduation?

After graduation, I plan to pursue my aspirations of obtaining a law degree. However, before diving into further studies, I have decided to take some time off to gain practical experience in my field of study, marketing. I believe that hands-on experience in the marketing industry will not only enhance my skills and knowledge but also provide valuable insights that will benefit me in my future legal career. As of now, I am actively searching for job opportunities in marketing and remain optimistic about securing a position before May 11th. I am eager to apply the skills and knowledge I have acquired throughout my academic journey to real-world scenarios. Can’t wait to be in my Corporate Baddie Era!

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Iris Okere for her work as the SGA president of Wichita State University.

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