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Leadership Highlight: Cheyney University of Pennsylvania’s SGA President Kishore Owusu

Photo Credit: Deen Athani (@athanimedia)

In an effort to highlight the people who are leading colleges and universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Cheyney University of Pennsylvania and did an interview with Kishore Owusu 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. Owusu, who is majoring in Biology (Concentration in Pre-Medical Studies), is from Kumasi, Ghana. He is a proud Fall 2022 initiate of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

We interviewed Kishore Owusu, 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: Deen Athani (@athanimedia)

Read the full interview below.

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

The biggest thing I have learned so far is how to communicate with peers and members of Cheyney’s administration. I have learned not only to be more outspoken on behalf of our student body and myself but also to be more strategic and intentional in advocating for the needs of my school. In addition, I have come to truly understand the essence of collaboration in shared beliefs.

What made you decide to attend Cheyney University of Pennsylvania for undergrad?

I was first made aware of Cheyney University through my brother, an alumnus of the university, who is a student doctor at Morehouse School of Medicine. I knew my decision to apply only to Cheyney was a great commitment once I received a full ride scholarship and acceptance into the Cheyney University Honors Academy. Upon further research, I fell in love with the historical importance Cheyney holds. Having celebrated 187 years since its founding, even before the civil war, Cheyney is Black history! What is a better way to contribute to that legacy than to graduate from the nation’s first HBCU?

How has Cheyney University of Pennsylvania molded you into the person you are today?

Cheyney University is a hub of opportunities. It’s family-oriented values allow for talents and character to be further developed through a more interconnected relationship between faculty, staff and other students. Since starting my collegiate journey at Cheyney, I have been met with numerous opportunities to grow into the leader I am today. As a student who aspires to go into medicine, I have gained hands-on experience through research opportunities with partners like ASI Chemicals, Waters Corporation, the University of Pennsylvania, and AtlantiCare. In addition, Cheyney made it possible for me to work on exciting projects with the U.S. Department of Defense, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Philadelphia 76ers. As these doors were opened, Cheyney’s atmosphere of tutelage helped to ensure I was prepared to take full advantage of the opportunities presented.

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 our SGA administration has had the honor of heading three major initiatives with the guidance of our advisor. The first of these initiatives was establishing a grievance bureau for students to use in reporting any concerns being faced while at school which allows for SGA to be more aware of the student needs and work toward a collective solution. Secondly, we’ve worked to establish some gamification strategies like Organization of the Month, Senator of the Month, Dean’s List and will soon have a President’s List that will ensure that student academic and social success are thoroughly celebrated. Lastly, our major contribution to the University is a potential collaboration with the WAWA corporation to allow the use of student “Dining Dollars” allotted in meal plans to be utilized at specific Wawa convenience stores near the University. We believe this is the beginning is a partnership between the University and the corporation that will benefit future Wolves for years to come.

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

As student government president, I had the opportunity to help host an event with my fraternity brother Kyle Morris-Sol in an emerging show called “Blame it On the Onions”. The goal of the program is to destigmatize black men being vulnerable by showing emotions which is a major topic in the world of mental health. In addition, Cheyney is home to one of the chapters of DMAX, a foundation with the goal of strengthening student mental health and emotional well being. Our SGA administration fully understands the stresses of college life considering we are students first. As such, we plan to utilize the services of DMAX in creating a week of events featuring relaxation, support and a stress relieving atmosphere during midterm week when students are enduring the pressures of being a college student this late into the semester. My university also understands the pressures of having support from certified experts when it comes to mental health and therefore, plans to double the number of counselors available for student use.

What does leadership mean to you?

Serving your community, stepping up for an open position, staying an extra hour at work to complete a project, improving based on constructive criticism, lending a helping hand, and listening along with valuing the opinions of one’s team. These are some examples of the qualities a great leader must possess. A leader must be selfless, fearless, humble, and above all, empathetic. All your talents and skills mean nothing if you don’t have the ability to understand things from the perspective of those around you. Beyond all things, a great leader is able to pass all acquired knowledge to those willing to receive it for the onward and upward mobility of society.

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

The digital world of today makes it so much easier for schools to create a connection between alumni, current and especially prospective students. Social media serves as an opportunity to create a digital experience that appeals to upcoming generations like high schoolers beyond hearing from the perspective of alumni and admissions staff. Today, schools must learn to evolve with the ever-changing culture that is social media while maintaining professional standards. As such they need to adopt some trending ideas, like TikTok challenges, performances etc, which helps contribute to the school’s culture, when applicable, as it could mean the difference between having an all-time high enrollment of students or average statistics.

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

I believe Watch the Yard is essential to the the Black student experience both at HBCUs and PWIs due to its emphasis on how HBCUs, D9 Fraternities and Sororities help cultivate some of the most impactful leaders of our generation. Watch the Yard serves as a hub where Black excellence is both honored and celebrated by all. This is a community built by and for people of our culture. In having a community that not only celebrates but highlights phenomenal students of African descent like myself, it helps further increase the excitement for college and showcases the possibilities that higher education holds for future generations to come.

What do you plan on doing after graduation?

After Graduating from Cheyney University with my Bachelor of Science degree, I plan on immediately taking the Medical College Admission Test or MCAT, thus signaling my application for medical school. I plan to earn an MD-PhD dual degree as I become a Cardiothoracic or Orthopedic Surgeon. Before being admitted to medical school however, I will be a returning Department of Defense HBCU/MI intern at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research where I have the opportunity to conduct arboviral research with my mentors.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Kishore Owusu for his work as the SGA president of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.

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