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Leadership Highlight: Jackson State University’s SGA President Jason Johnson

Photo Credit: Brent Harris

In an effort to highlight the people who are leading colleges and universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Jackson State University and did an interview with Jason Johnson 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. Johnson, who is majoring in Electrical Engineering, is from Belleville. He is a proud Spring 2022 initiate of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

We interviewed Jason Johnson, and talked to him about his position, goals, future and what it means to hold this type of leadership position in 2023-2024.

Photo Credit: Brent Harris

Read the full interview below.

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

I have really learned that your greatest work and accomplishments happen because of those who you decide to surround yourself with. I am blessed to have a great circle of student leaders in my current administration who are all ready and always eager to help wherever need be, which always makes the work and my job a whole lot easier. It’s truly impossible to do everything yourself no matter how good you may be so keeping that in mind and asking for help when needed has done me a lot of good in my time as president.

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

I decided to attend Jackson State really off a whim honestly. I visited the campus during winter break in my senior year of High School just weeks before Covid-19 closed schools and I really didn’t see too much of the campus. Coming all the way from Michigan it really came down to having a strong feeling that Jackson State was for me. I knew I wanted to go to HBCU and Jackson State was a school where I knew I would get all the resources I needed as an Electrical Engineering student.

Photo Credit: Brent Harris

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

Attending Jackson State University has really made me into the man I am today. Through attending JSU I have gained the tools and confidence to go out into the world confidently upon graduation and believe without a doubt that I will be successful. I feel like in attending college you are sent off knowing what you are supposed to as far as getting your education, but it is through actually being there alone that you have no choice but to learn how to really navigate by yourself. I have faced many hardships and challenges in college but I have always found a way to prevail by using my resources whether it be my religion, my friends and family, or even simply believing in myself. If given the opportunity even through the hardships I would do it all over again, because Jackson State taught me how to always trust in myself at the end of the day.

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 at Jackson State some of the main initiatives we have been focusing on include voter registration, mental health, and overall communication. Each of which have been backed by plenty of events, conversations, and activities both on and off campus. Over the school year we have have had the privilege of partnering with our Jackson State NAACP chapter to prepare students to vote. We have also hosted many events targeting mental health including partnering with our University’s Latasha Norman Center for Counseling Services. Through constant networking and conversation with students and faculty we have spent the year trying to find better ways to get message across to students and reach them the most effectively as well.

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

Our SGA Administration are all very aware of the importance of mental health and the necessity for addressing it at our college campus. So much so that we have hosted various mental health targeting events including coloring book exercises, yoga days, and other events including guest speakers giving students the chance to relax and focus on their mental health. Another way our SGA administration has targeted mental health at our university is by working with our University president to bring several mental health days to our campus ceasing all university functions including class in order to give students a chance to focus on themself for the day. We understand that every student faces challenges on a day to day basis, but strongly encourage everyone to take the time they need when it comes to their mental health.

What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership to me is not only setting yourself up to be the best example for your university and community, but also your ability to learn and listen to your community at all times. It is taking the stand—being ready to handle whatever is being thrown your way with little to no hesitation. It is being the shoulder others lean onto. It is the ability to listen to everyone’s concerns but make the decision that best suits the community in its entirety. Leadership is to have courage—in yourself, in your abilities, and in your community.

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

Every day the world seems to become more and more digital focused. Nowadays not having a digital presence can almost put people at a disadvantage especially when it comes to schools and universities. Some ways I feel school’s need to represent themselves when it come to being digital include:

Interactive Websites: Websites should provide information about the school’s mission, programs, faculty, and facilities. It should also include features such as virtual tours, interactive maps, and multimedia content to engage visitors.

Social Media Presence: Schools should always actively maintain profiles on popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. These platforms can be used to share updates, achievements, and interact with current and prospective students, parents, alumni, and the community.

Online Learning Platforms: Especially since Covid-19 online learning tools have become a necessary feature ever school has the option of, schools should invest in learning management systems in order to support remote education. These platforms should provide access to course materials, assignments, assessments, and communication tools for both students and teachers.

Digital Marketing: Schools should lastly utilize digital marketing techniques such as content marketing, email marketing, and online advertising to reach their target audience and attract prospective students. This can include promoting open houses, special events, and academic programs through targeted online campaigns.

In today’s digital age, finding the most effective ways to interact and use the internet to make an impact on our campus is vital. By using these strategies, schools can effectively represent themselves online in the digital world and create a positive image for everyone to view.

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

I think Watch The Yard is so important to Black students and college culture in general because of all the positivity it spreads. I’ve been following Watch The Yard since before I got to college and been truly been amazed of all the great work taking place at these HBCUs across America, some of which I would have never heard about without Watch The Yard. The outlet gives students like me the platform to show off our hard work and achievements while also being the resource providing meaningful information to thousands. I’m thankful for Watch The Yard deciding to feature myself along with my other SGA Presidents and I can not wait to read more great articles from them in the future.

What do you plan on doing after graduation?

Right now I am blessed to have several job offers on the table in the field of Electrical Engineering, but I am still deciding on a definite position. My goal is the begin my career and then go back graduate school to further my education.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Jason Johnson for his work as the SGA president of Jackson State University.

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