In an effort to highlight the people who are leading colleges and universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Fisk University and did an interview with Andreas Nelson the Student Government Association president.
The position of SGA president is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Nelson, who is majoring in chemistry, is a current Senior and a Spring 2019 initiate of Alpha Phi Alpha.
We interviewed Nelson, 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?
As SGA President, I’ve learned how to understand and collaborate on perspectives that my differ from my own. It’s vital in this position that you’re able to value criticism and feedback you’ll receive and expand upon it, even if you may not agree with it! I also acquired the skill of effective communication with administrators on a professional level. Overall, this role has been a humbling and enlightening experience.
What made you decide to attend Fisk University for undergrad?
I attended a college fair hosted by the 100 Black Men of Chicago during my junior year of high school. I knew I wanted to attend an HBCU but I wasn’t quite sure which one. I visited all HBCUs that were present but Fisk stood out amongst the rest. Miss Stephanie Cory and Nehemiah Barker, who would later become my prophyte, were speaking on behalf of Fisk at the table. They had me captivated by the way they explained their experiences at Fisk and what the university had to offer. It was at that point I was set on going to the Illustrious, Fisk University.
How has Fisk University molded you into the person you are today?
Fisk University has produced prestigious figures in black history. From my first tour on campus, it was heavily emphasized on how the history of Fisk has its impacted students and surrounding communities. You have a higher sense of self-identity knowing you’re sharing a similar experience with the notable alum that have come before you. As any other university, we aren’t perfect, but I wouldn’t trade the 4-years I spent at Fisk for anywhere else. I’ve made new friends, built connections, and experienced a culture that is second to none. The tools that Fisk equips their students with will prepare them for rest of their lives. Matriculating through Fisk has been more than just obtaining a degree.
What specific initiatives have you headed up this year and how do you think they will improve the school and surrounding community?
The year 2020 was a very impactive year for my generation, we faced a global pandemic and a crucial election. As co-founder of Operation “GOOD TROUBLE”, it was important to start a movement that would encourage, motivate, and educate young millennials and Gen Zs to the polls. We had virtual forums, provided a social media platform, and distributed over 1000 poll boxes. The poll boxes include necessary PPE supplies, light snacks and voting rights information. This initiative proved to be very impactful on our campus and in the community surrounding our school.
How is your school currently responding to the coronavirus and what is your SGA administration doing to help students?
Fisk University has always been a safe haven for its students and the school’s support for us lately, has showcased itself in many forms. Initially, in the beginning of the pandemic, the university implemented a COVID-19 Taskforce to be prepared for issues related to the times we are in. They are a deliberative body composed of university personnel who seek to make the best recommendations for the University’s proceedings. With safety and health being a priority, the University has implemented all virtual classes, single room space for students in residence halls, a 2 week quarantine upon arrival, free Telehealth counseling from the University’s counseling center, free on campus COVID-19 testing and virtual events to still foster some semblance of the Fisk Experience. With our close knit university atmosphere, students are still granted the opportunity to enjoy life on campus inside and outside the classroom.
Our SGA Administration has been working tirelessly to ensure students feel supported at these times. Whether it be through our town-halls, grievance and check in calls, fun virtual events, showcasing phenomenal students on our newsletter and social media, or office hours with the SGA President, our main priority has been and always will be representing and amplifying student voices.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership means having the ability to advocate for those who have trusted you with their voice. A good leader can make difficult decisions, will demand actions, always be transparent, finds resolutions to problems, communicates well and is able to be a unifier.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think schools need to do to represent themselves online in 2021?
It is vital for our institutions to remain current to the times and willing to showcase themselves as excitable to both current students and prospective. Updated websites, virtual tours of campuses, attractive social media pages showcasing student life and university activities through the pandemic, and University’s instituting clear communication with students and staff, I believe are all extremely essential for online success.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black students and college culture?
WatchTheYard has always been a credible, meaningful, and informative platform to showcase specifically black college life and culture. They give voice to our people be it through our experience, heritage, and our success. It is imperative for us to see ourselves in all of our glory and WatchTheYard supplies just that.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
After my matriculation, I plan on attending dental school. Currently in our country 3.8% of dentist are black healthcare professionals. It is important to me to be a part of making a dynamic impact in the change of these statistics. We must have more healthcare professionals in our communities who look like us. My goal is to inspire and mentor young black girls and boys to become healthcare professionals.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Andreas Nelson for his work as the SGA president of Fisk University.
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