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Leadership Highlight: South Carolina State University’s SGA President Zyah Cephus

Photo Credit: @zay.visuals.1

In an effort to highlight the people who are leading colleges and universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to South Carolina State University and did an interview with Zyah Cephus 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. Cephus, who is majoring in Marketing, is from San Diego, California. She is a proud Spring 2022 initiate of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

We interviewed Zyah Cephus, 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?

As the second woman in South Carolina State University history to serve as a two-term Student Government Association President, I have learned the importance of mental health. In the course of my two terms, I lost both my father and grandfather. Despite this, I kept the “Push through” attitude. I never truly took the time to take care of myself and my mental health. Mental health for student leaders is important. As student leaders, we hold a lot of weight on our shoulders. The importance of taking time to truly get to know yourself cannot be overstated. Remember to take time for yourself every now and then!

What made you decide to attend South Carolina State University for undergrad?

When I stumbled across SCSU during my senior year of high school, and it was fate. The school wasn’t on my radar, and I was touring another school at the time. When I arrived on the campus I was completely drawn to the captivating culture, southern hospitality, and family environment. South Carolina State University is a place I can now call home. Being over 1,000 miles away from home my bulldog family has always taken care of me.

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

South Carolina State University has given me countless opportunities to reach my full potential. At a smaller HBCU, I am given resources and chances that I may not have been able to receive had I gone to a larger HBCU or PWI. I am extremely grateful for the tenacity, drive, and unconditional love my university has instilled in me.

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?

This year some of our many initiatives have been voter registration, advocacy, and communication. Each of these initiatives is essential to building a productive culture amongst the student body. Over the academic school year, we have hosted various events and partnered with HBCUs in South Carolina, along with local political leaders, to encourage students to vote and to explain to students the voting process. We also worked to use social media platforms to connect and communicate with students about important information. Also, we have hosted events to bridge the gap between students and advocate for the only public HBCU in South Carolina.

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

This academic school year our school has done an excellent job on attending to the mental health of students. As Student Government Association we have worked closely with the counseling center to host events that target several mental health and addiction issues happening within the student body. As SGA we have also made several efforts to give students free care packages on campus. This year administration introduced students to a new full-time counseling staff. Mrs.Jackson and her staff have done an amazing job catering to the needs of the student body. On campus, they have set up several weekly support groups for students struggling with mental health issues. The counseling center has also applied for several grants for the student body. The school has also introduced the “TimelyCare” app that offers free online therapy sessions and counseling to all students and several anonymous chat groups for students battling mental health. Several efforts have also been made to incorporate mental health pods on campus.

What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership at its core is service. As a leader, I believe you must be willing to serve the greater good and learn when to be selfless. I also believe that a leader must have a sense of discernment and transparency.

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

As a marketing major at a smaller HBCU, I have realized how pivotal social media can be when it comes to admissions and recruitment. One viral moment can change the entire course of an HBCU’s enrollment and brand. Additionally, schools need to implement various social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram to reach a variety of consumers.

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

Watch The Yard is important because it broadcasts Black college life to a larger audience. As a high school senior determining my path to higher education, social media pages like Watch The Yard inspired me to attend a historically black college or university.

What do you plan on doing after graduation?

Following graduation, I intend to pursue a master’s degree at a historically black college or university. As part of my commitment to transparency, I am open to any marketing opportunities that may arise.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Zyah Cephus for her work as the SGA president of South Carolina State University.

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