In an effort to highlight the people who are leading colleges and universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Winthrop University and did an interview with Brandon Jackson the Student Government Association president.
The position of SGA president is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Jackson, who is majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resource Management, is a current Senior and a Fall 2019 initiate of Alpha Phi Alpha’s Xi Phi Chapter.
We interviewed Jackson, and talked to him about his position, goals, future and what it means to hold this type of leadership position in 2021.
Read the full interview below.
What is the biggest thing you’ve learned as an SGA president so far?
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as SGA President is that people will not always see the work you put in. Often, we can so easily judge one’s productivity or ability to perform well in a role by how much they appear to be doing; however, people don’t always see what is going on in the background and the work you are truly putting in to make this campus a greater place. This role has proven that leadership requires you to inspire a shared vision amongst those you are working with. Although people may not see all of the visions and all of the work and time required, what matters is that you stayed true to yourself and continue to work towards bettering your surroundings.
What made you decide to attend Winthrop University for undergrad?
I took my first tour of Winthrop University when I was a sophomore in high school. The only reason I went is because my best friend Arlesha convinced me to go in an effort to get out of class! But I’m glad she ended up convincing me to come with her because when I came, I was sold on my college decision. I decided to attend Winthrop because the classes sizes were small enough to where I feel that I wouldn’t be another face in the crowd. The campus is the right size, and it isn’t too far from home. Furthermore, Winthrop has a large minority presence with about 30% of enrolled students being Black. I felt that there was a place for me at Winthrop University and that this institution would provide me with the support and guidance I need to thrive throughout my collegiate and post-undergraduate endeavors.
How has Winthrop University molded you into the person you are today?
Winthrop has molded me into the person I am today by providing me with the experiences and support needed to succeed. Hard working Faculty and Staff have always been here to support and guide me whenever I need assistance. At Winthrop, you gain a better understanding of leadership and how your actions have an impact on those around you. We take classes that provide us with a better understanding of ourselves and the overall human experience. Because our school is of a smaller size, we have the chance to connect with Faculty and Staff on a more personal and genuine level which allows us to get all the mentorship and guidance one may need. When you leave Winthrop, you leave with the tools and experience needed to face any obstacle or opportunity the world may present you with. As I look back at Brandon J. the freshman and reflect on Brandon J. the senior, it is evident that this university has changed me for the better and I am more than ready to embark on the next chapter of my life.
What specific initiatives have you headed up this year and how do you think they will improve the school and surrounding community?
As an Executive Board, our main goal was to increase SGA’s relationship of our student body. We ran on the platform “Better Together” which focuses on the strength in our bond as students. Through this, we have created a round table talk initiative called “Garnet Table Talk” where students have the platform to speak freely and voice their opinions about various university functions and operations. From these conversations, our Executive Board creates reports and presentations to present to upper university administration in an effort for them to hear the voices of the students and make the change that the student body would like to see. An additional initiative includes working with Faculty Conference to make sure that professors understand what it is to be a student in today’s world. This allows Faculty members to look at things from another point of view and better the classroom environment for their students. I am confident that these initiatives will improve our institution and surrounding communities by keeping the conversation going regarding the needs of students. When it comes to leadership, sometimes we think we know how people may be feeling but it is important to check back in and read the room in an effort to further cohesion and unity.
How is your school currently responding to the coronavirus and what is your SGA administration doing to help students?
In response to COVID-19, Winthrop University has become flexible and aims to meet the needs of the students. Classes are offered in person, online (synchronous and asynchronous), and hybrid. Campus life is up and running with modified hours and the implementation of CDC and S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control guidelines. Many programs and workshops are being offered completely online or in person with a virtual format whereas those who cannot make it physically are more than welcome to join online. To help the student body, our SGA has made it our mission to record and keep track of all questions, comments, and concerns students may have for our university’s leadership. Though we may not all be connected physically, SGA is determined to serve the student body to the best of our abilities while providing a safe domain for all.
What does leadership mean to you?
I define leadership as selfless service. You do not have to hold the highest office or the grandest title to be a leader and make a difference. Leadership means understanding the areas of improvement for your community and working to make those areas better. Leadership is not what you can do for yourself, leadership is what you can do for those around you in an effort to make the world a better place. A true leader understands that they cannot change the world in a day; however, they will do what they can to throw another stick in the fire known as change.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think schools need to do to represent themselves online in 2021?
To represent themselves online in 2021, schools should showcase the connection they have with their current and prospective students, alumni, and their faculty and staff members. To showcase the connection, schools should highlight what is going on within the school and the difference that those connected to the school are making in their subjective community. In response to COVID-19, social media is being used now more than ever and can be the primary method of communication for many people. Schools should use social media to their advantage by offering online resources to their students and provide a mechanism for all affiliated to their school to connect and share what their wonderful university has done for them.
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 Watch the Yard aims to uplift and highlight people and the magnitude of their hard work. Watch the Yard highlights and showcases the experiences of successful Black students and alumni worldwide, and in turn gives us someone to look up to and/or be proud of. Consistently seeing Black excellence on Watch the Yard makes me feel empowered and ready to take on the world.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
After I graduate from Winthrop University, I plan to attend graduate school at the University of South Carolina.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Brandon Jackson for his work as the SGA president of Winthrop University.